Imagine this: eight days ago you were on your couch, wondering whether the call was ever going to come. You got cut in the last week of training camp, when they went down to 53 men on the roster. They told you it was close, that you were just outside the bubble. They told you that if you didn’t catch on somewhere else that you were going to get a call from them if someone got hurt. Nobody else called. Your agent told you to keep working out and he’d let you know as soon as he got any word, but you were not going to let them forget you. Every day you texted someone: the GM, the director of pro personnel, the head coach, the defensive coordinator, the secondary coach, they were not going to forget your name and how close you were. Your name was going to be the one on their lips when they needed one more guy. Ten weeks; you waited for ten weeks. Working out every day to be ready for your shot if it ever came; you were going to be ready to go. Finally they did call. They needed a body for Sunday, their starter went down last week. Of course you remembered the playbook, you’d been thinking of nothing else for ten weeks. You were not going to get in the game outside of a miracle but you were getting an NFL minimum paycheck, and that’s all you needed to hear. They needed a body, you needed a paycheck; and one more shot at the dream.
Our Hero Keeps the Game from Going to OT in Lambeau
You’ve done nothing since warm ups almost four hours ago when coach calls your name. You’re thinking “What, seriously, another guy went down; right now of all times?” It’s the fourth quarter; Aaron Rogers has the Packers in the red zone, the Lions are defending an eight point lead, and you’re going in because Josh Wilson just went down. Two plays later they’ve got the touchdown they needed, and the guy that’s been having his best day as a pro, the guy with nine catches on the day…… He’s right in front of you. The quarterback can’t even hide a little smirk as he comes up to the line of scrimmage. Everyone in the stadium knows where the ball is going; it’s coming at you. You’ve just got to do what you’ve spent your entire life, since you were a little kid, doing. You’ve got this. They don’t even bother running something complicated, 17 just comes right at you and cuts out, the outside receiver runs underneath you by three yards, there is no pick, just you against him: and he beats you clean.
A lifetime of preparation, years of training to be one of the most complete athletes in the world, and the man in front of you in the most important moment of your professional career just beat you. Giving up the game tying two point conversion isn’t a good way to convince the team’s new interim GM that he should keep you around for another week; or any other GM that they should call your agent when one of theirs goes down. Your team wasn’t supposed to win today anyway. Your buddies from training camp went 2-7 without you; but this is not about them. Nobody expected a win today outside that locker room, but when it comes right down to it you’re the guy who just got beat at the end. The story is going to be that the Lions did what they do best, find a way to come up one play short against the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau field; and the guy who’s going to be all over ESPN, all over NBC, even that new thing they’re doing on FS1 with those two Canadians making fun of everything. That’s who you are going to be today, you just blew it. But the ball is behind him. The reigning NFL MVP just put the ball in the only spot that gives you one last shot at redemption; it’s low and behind his receiver! You dive underneath the receiver, uncoiling your entire body like a striking cobra, swipe at his hands just as the ball is coming in.
The Moment of Clarity
Your timing is perfect. The ball is on the ground, game over, you won, and 52 other guys are going insane! The MVP is on the ground pounding the turf because he knows what you know. They beat you, but they had to finish it, and they didn’t. In stead of lofting it to the corner where only his guy could get it, he tried to put it through you, and you know what? You might not be the guy in this scenario that has already punched his ticket to Canton, but you’re in the same league he is, and you damn well belong here too! You’re Crezdon Butler; and you know what? Ten minutes ago Aaron Rogers didn’t know your name, but he’ll know it tomorrow and so will everyone else in America! It’s Crezdon Fucking Butler! You see a couple Lions fans, guys who have probably been hearing all day about the script that was going to play out, the script that always plays out for the Lions in Lambeau, and they’re screaming their heads off, so you do it. A Lambeau leap to the guys who feel just as great about this moment as you do is the icing on the cake before you head back and celebrate with the team. Crezdon Butler and the Detroit Lions just beat the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field…………. As long as the hands team can come away with the onside kick this game is over!
Why This Play by Crezdon Butler is the One
That was the moment that exemplified the Lions 2015 season for me. Crezdon Butler almost misses the plane because he can’t get there fast enough, and personifies the “next man up” mentality of the defense in the second half of the season. He and the rest of the Lions tell the league that they still need to show up on Sunday, that there is still a team of 53, count them, 53 professional athletes coming for them the rest of the way. Guys that were working every bit as hard every week as any other team in the league, that were not going to just lay down and die in the mud. But for a batted ball out the back of the end zone against the Seahawks, and a facemask that was every bit as real as a unicorn, That team would have found itself playing against the Redskins in the Playoffs and I have a difficult time imagining that they would not have come out on top of that. The team who had been compared to their 2008 counterparts in the media a couple weeks before were not done yet. Crezdon Butler had not finished his career yet. I mean sure the Lions almost screwed it up again and let the Packers off the hook, but they didn’t. The streak was broken because Crezdon Butler got a phone call.