Butler tweet to Collins irks church

There are few NFL players, past or present, with a more inspirational story than former Green Bay Packers safety LeRoy Butler.

Butler, who played his entire 12-year NFL career with the Packers, spent much of his early childhood in a wheelchair or leg braces before eventually becoming a Jacksonville, Fla., high school football standout and, later, a star at Florida State under Bobby Bowden. He made his NFL debut in 1990 and went on to intercept 38 passes in 181 games. He won a Super Bowl in 1997, was named an All-Pro selection four times and is even credited with inventing the Lambeau Leap.

Since his playing career ended in 2001, Butler has been a staple in the Green Bay community, and since 2005, his LeRoy Butler Foundation has provided financial support and other assistance to women undergoing breast cancer treatments.

But all that meant little to one Wisconsin church, which, on Tuesday, canceled a scheduled appearance by the Packer great. Why? We’ll let him tell the story:

As for the offending tweet in question, Butler sent it Monday evening, several hours after Collins’ Sports Illustrated story had hit the web:

In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on Wednesday, Butler declined to name the church or its location, other than to confirm that it is in Wisconsin.

"This is what bothers me the most," Butler told the Journal-Sentinel. "They said, ‘If you ask for forgiveness and remove the tweet and you say something to the effect that you don’t congratulate (Collins) then we’ll let you do the engagement and get the speaker’s fee, and I said I’m not doing that.

"Every gay and lesbian person will say ‘You know, LeRoy doesn’t speak up for the weak or the silenced. He doesn’t stand for anything as a man and he did it for money.’ Why would you ask me to reduce my integrity like that?"

Butler also told the Journal-Sentinel that the church has since tried to apologize for what Butler called “a form of bullying.” Butler said he would accept the apology but would not work with the church again.

Obviously the issue of gay rights is still a touchy one for many, and it’ll take a lot more than Jason Collins coming out to fix that. And churches like the one that canceled Butler’s appearance are doing little to further that progress. But good on Butler for sticking to his guns and not putting a dollar amount on his values.