Hundreds attend 8th Annual Malcolm Butler Football Camp

Published 7:34 pm Saturday, July 16, 2022

During a successful and eventful eight-year NFL career, Malcolm Butler has changed addresses a few times. His hometown, though, has always been in his heart.

Butler, the New England Patriots cornerback and former Vicksburg High School star, once again celebrated with his hometown on Saturday by hosting the 8th Annual Malcolm Butler Football Camp.

Nearly 300 children in grades 1-12, as well as college players and VHS coaches, spent three hours going through football drills and having fun in the blazing summer sun at VHS’ Memorial Stadium.

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The camp was free.

“It’s great to see. I couldn’t do it just by myself. A lot of people put in a lot of their time and have a good commitment to getting this done,” Butler said. “It makes me feel good to see kids out here having a good time and me giving back to my community.”

Butler led campers in drills during the camp, and signed autographs — many on cleats and sweaty T-shirts — afterward. They came to see perhaps Vicksburg’s most famous football player, the cornerback who won two Super Bowls with the New England Patriots and became a franchise legend for his championship-clinching interception in the final minute of Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks.

Butler left the Patriots after the 2017 season and played the next three with the Tennessee Titans. He signed a free agent contract with the Arizona Cardinals in 2021, but retired just before the season started.

Butler ended his retirement after the season, was released by the Cardinals, and in March returned to the Patriots on a two-year contract. He attributed his sudden retirement to burnout and said he’s “rejuvenated” heading into the 2022 campaign.

He also said his annual football camp and the massive turnout and support from friends and family in Vicksburg serve as personal motivation.

“It lets me know I’m doing the right thing,” Butler said. “It’s motivation. You always want to stay on top of your game mentally and physically, and keep inspiring people.”

Football was the reason so many people showed up for the camp, but as always Butler made sure they didn’t leave without some souvenirs. He partnered with the United Way of West Central Mississippi to fill bookbags with school supplies and give them to all the campers.

Michelle Connelly, the executive director of the United Way of West Central Mississippi, said Butler purchased the bookbags and a number of other donors and local businesses bought the school supplies.

Chick-fil-A also donated food for the kids at the conclusion of the camp, and other sponsors also chipped in for various items.

“Today, we are focusing on making sure that we get school supplies in the hands of all of these amazing scholar-athletes that are out there on the field,” Connelly said. “What happens on the classroom is just as important as what happens on the field. Malcolm partners with us to make sure we get those school supplies in their hands.”

It was the latest charitable gesture by Butler toward his hometown.

On several occasions he has partnered with the United Way to purchase Thanksgiving meals for Vicksburg families. In April 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Butler donated $10,000 to the United Way’s grab-and-go meals for the elderly program. Later that year the charity got another $10,000 donation from the NFL Players Association’s Community MVP program on Butler’s behalf.

“It’s always an honor to partner with Malcolm Butler. He is extremely generous to our community and has been a huge supporter of our mission in the West Central Mississippi area,” Connelly said. “It is a lot more than football, and that’s why United Way loves partnering with Malcolm and (Butler’s business manager) Larry Lundy because they very much understand the bigger picture and the bigger impact we want to make in the lives of these children.”

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 139-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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