Butler, Woodson hoping for HOF's 'Year of the Safety'

All-Decade choice LeRoy Butler and five-time Pro Bowler Darren Woodson hope this is HOF's 'Year of the Safety'

LeRoy Butler knows safety is one of the least represented positions in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is well aware of the fact that only nine pure safeties have been inducted so his odds of making it in are long, even though he has been named a semi-finalist for the second time this year.

Along with Butler on this year’s final 25 list is his 1990s All-Decade “teammate,’’ Denver’s Steve Atwater, as well as former Dallas Cowboys’ five-time Pro Bowl selection Darren Woodson, nine-time pro Bowl and two-time HOF finalist John Lynch and first-time eligible Ed Reed, who many see as the one lock among this fivesome.

Butler and Woodson dropped by Talk of Fame Network this week to discuss their candidacies, the safety position and how each looks at having reached the semi-finals.

Butler is the inventor of the Lambeau Leap, first leaping into the south end zone seats at Lambeau Field on Dec, 26, 1993. That has now become a tradition in Green Bay and something Butler jokingly said changed how Packer fans viewed seating at their venerable stadium.

“I think I proved the crappy seats were the 50-yard-line seats, not the north and south end zones,’’ Butler jokingly told TOF co-hosts Clark Judge, Ron Borges and Rick Gosselin. “Nobody wanted to sit in the end zone so just that alone I should be in the Hall of Fame.’’

Despite the fact he was a first-team All-Decade selection, this is only the second time Butler has reached the semi-finals. He has yet to make the final 15 list but said he is viewing this year’s candidacy differently than a year ago.

“Last year I didn’t get a chance to enjoy it,’’ Butler said. “I got caught up in being a finalist (which failed to happen). This year I’m more elated. It’s a privilege just to be talked about. Do you know how many players who even played this game? So to be a semi-finalist is remarkable. I always thought if I ever get talked about I think I have a chance. I did something a lot of safeties didn’t do. I covered people.’’

So, too, did Woodson, who is entering his 10th year of eligibility. Woodson is a three-time semi-finalist but like Butler has never made the final 15. Despite those disappointments, he still believes his day will come.

“I’m optimistic,’’ Woodson said. “That’s the athlete in me. The road to the Hall of Fame is nothing new in my life. People have always doubted me. It’s just a matter of time. I know it’s hard to make that choice.’’

It’s worth tuning in just to hear Butler talk about his first Lambeau Leap and listen to Woodson tell the story of the first time he slid into the slot to cover Jerry Rice, the legendary 49ers’ wide receiver who had a few kind words for him. And a tap on Woodson’s helmet.

You can hear all that as well as Hall of Fame voter John McClain recalling the life well lived of Houston Texans’ owner Bob McNair, who passed away last week after a lengthy battle with skin cancer and our guys’ inside look at how the semi-final balloting is likely to go from the perspective of three long-time Hall of Fame voters.

Clark also states the Hall of Fame case for a quarterback from long ago, ex-49er Frankie Albert, and Ron rants on what it really means when two quarterbacks complete over 90 of their passes – within 24 hours!

You can find the show on your local SB Nation Radio Network station or by just downloading our free weekly podcast at iTunes or by using the TuneIn app. The show can also be heard at any time on our website, talkoffamenetwork.com.

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