Butler’s humility shines through on big day

Published 10:30 am Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Malcolm Butler is more famous in Vicksburg right now than any Beatle could dream of being.

By the time his monstrous float made its slow crawl onto Washington Street Saturday, you could hear the screams before you could see his face. The thousands of admiring fans, family members and friends who dotted downtown last weekend for, as my managing editor Paul Barry put it, the biggest parade in Vicksburg since the Union troops marched in, were there just to get a quick glimpse of Vicksburg’s Super Bowl hero.

You heard the word “our” a lot that day. Congressman Bennie Thompson called him “our hometown hero.” Senator Briggs Hopson echoed those sentiments, as did Mayor George Flaggs in his impassioned speech about Butler during his ceremony to accept the key to the city. It’s as if Butler was wearing his old Vicksburg High jersey when he made the interception that would etch his name among Super Bowl greats for eternity.

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All of this praise and unadulterated adulation for Butler has shown us who he really is. It’s also proven why he’s so worthy of it all.

By now you’ve heard about his second chance, his third chance, and how he climbed his way out of being a statistic to being a star.

The way he’s handled all the fame and heaps of praise showcases how truly deserving of it he is. Butler started every speech he made Saturday by thanking people. I swear the words “I’d like to thank” exited his mouth more times than “hello.”

Butler looked overwhelmed by the scene that unfolded in front of his eyes Saturday, from the thousands of people who showed up to cheer him on to the packed media room all clamoring for a quote from the Super Bowl superstar.

This is a guy who didn’t even sign the contract Disney dishes out to each team before the game in case they’re the ones who get to say “I’m going to Disneyland” after winning it all.

His agent, who he thanks almost breathlessly every time he discusses it, basically forced him to sign it at media day. He still gets nervous around the media, too, and said presenting at The Grammys was harder than playing football.

He flashes a soft smile any time you mention how great his read was or how important it was in the grand scheme of things. He even placed a caveat on his answer when asked how he stays motivated after making what is no doubt the biggest play of his football career.

“There’s a Malcolm Butler out there right now trying to take my spot,” he said before adding, “Not to say I’m any good or anything.”

The guy truly is a humble, quiet, nice guy. If it sounds like a dumb media trope it’s because it is, but it’s also true.

Malcolm Butler made the play of the year.

And it couldn’t have happened to a nicer dude.

Cory Gunkel is a reporter. He can be reached 601-636-4545, Ext. 178, or by email at cory.gunkel@vicksburgpost.com