Butler’s camp reminds us all that work pays off

Published 7:57 am Thursday, July 12, 2018

By a lot of measures, Malcolm Butler has already had a memorable NFL career even if he never plays another down.

The former Vicksburg High star defied the odds by not only making the mighty New England Patriots’ roster as an undrafted free agent from Division II West Alabama, he helped them win a championship with an MVP-worthy performance in Super Bowl XLIX. He then became an All-Pro and one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, and helped the Patriots win a second Lombardi Trophy before his unexplained benching in this year’s Super Bowl brought a bizarre finish to his tenure with the team.

That’s a lifetime’s worth of resumé packed into a brief four-year career.

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Butler left the Patriots this offseason to sign a big free agent contract with the Tennessee Titans. It’s been a tumultuous offseason, but for all of that and through all of his success one thing has stayed constant — he has never forgotten his hometown.

Butler was at the groundbreaking of the city’s new youth sports complex in June, and on Saturday he’ll be back again to host the fourth edition of the youth football camp he started in the wake of that first Super Bowl victory.

That sort of thing makes an impression. Some star athletes forsake their hometowns for one reason or another once they make it big. Butler isn’t one of them. Even though he obviously lives far away from Vicksburg for much of the year, by staying visible here he serves as a constant reminder that anyone can overcome humble beginnings to become a success.

“You never know who is the next Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Malcolm Butler, who is the next big football star coming out of this camp. Who is going to be that star and look back and say, ‘I went to Malcolm Butler’s football camp when I was little,’” Malcolm Butler Football Camp coordinator Cynthia Bell said.

Not everyone will be the next big thing in the NFL, of course. Only a fraction of a fraction of a percentage of players ever make it that far. But seeing Butler around town is a reminder that grinding, working hard and never giving up on your dreams is a path to success. Talent can give you opportunities, but it takes all of those other attributes to actually do something with it.

In most of the world Malcolm Butler is the answer to a trivia question, or just a good football player. In Vicksburg, he’s the stuff that role models are made of and someone all of us can look up to.

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at ernest.bowker@vicksburgpost.com

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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