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LeRoy Butler jumps into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

CANTON, Ohio – LeRoy Butler jumped into the Pro Football Hall of Fame with the same enthusiasm he celebrated big plays at Lambeau Field.

The four-time All-Pro safety was the first of eight members of the Class of 2022 to be enshrined Saturday at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

“DJ Khaled said it best: ‘God did,'” Butler began, referencing the song. “When you play for the Green Bay Packers, a lot of doors open. When you win a Super Bowl, more doors open. When you get elected to the Hall of Fame, football heaven opens. It’s a rare enterprise.”

Butler received applause from Jaguars fans in attendance to see the addition of Tony Boselli when he mentioned growing up in Jacksonville.

“Thank you, Duval,” Butler said. “Growing up in poverty, my mother made us think rich every day because it’s not about what you wear or what you have, it’s about how you act.”

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Butler helped restore Green Bay’s glory days during a 12-year career. His versatility as a safety set the standard for a new wave at the position and earned him a spot on the big league team of the 1990s.

Butler originated the “Lambeau Leap” and had a key sack in Green Bay’s Super Bowl victory over New England. He came close to becoming the first player in league history to finish his career with 40 tackles and 20 sacks.

Sam Mills, the 5-foot-9 linebacker nicknamed “Field Mouse” during his 12-year career with the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers, was inducted posthumously after Butler. An inspirational figure, Mills overcame tremendous odds to make it to the NFL.

Mills played Division III college football and was not drafted. He was cut by the Cleveland Browns and Toronto Argonauts of the CFL and began his professional career with the Philadelphia Stars of the USFL. Jim Mora, who coached the Stars, took him to New Orleans in 1986 and Mills never looked back.

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“He was told he wasn’t good enough to play college football or big enough to play pro football and at 27, he wasn’t young enough to play in the NFL and yet here we are today celebrating,” he said melanie Mills, Sam’s widow.

Mills made 1,265 tackles, had 23 fumble recoveries, forced 22 fumbles, had 20 1/2 sacks and intercepted 11 passes in 12 seasons. He was also part of the first four playoff teams in the history of the Saints and the first in the history of the Panthers.

Mills became an assistant coach with the Panthers after his retirement. He was diagnosed with bowel cancer before the 2003 season, but continued to train during his treatment and gave what is known as his “Keep Hitting” speech on the eve of the club’s Super Bowl matchup with New England at the end of that season.

Mills died in April 2005 at the age of 45. His “Keep pounding” is still the motto of the Panthers.

In a year without first-ballot candidates, inductees endured long waits to make the Hall.

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Defensive tackle Richard Seymour didn’t wait long to taste success in the NFL. He was part of three Super Bowl championship teams in his first four seasons with the New England Patriots.

Seymour noted the defensive stalwarts on those teams, but didn’t mention Tom Brady by name.

“We had a young quarterback, but we made it work,” Seymour said, drawing laughs from the crowd.

Seymour had 57 1/2 sacks in 12 seasons, the first eight in New England before ending his career with the Oakland Raiders.

“I’m overwhelmed with humility because it’s not about what this says about me but what it says about us and what we can do together,” he said. “I’m overwhelmed with gratitude because I didn’t get here alone. None of us did. None of us could have.”

Seymour, 42, choked back thanks to his wife, Tanya.

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“Football is what I do, but family is who I am,” he said. “Thank you for all you have added to my life. This day belongs to my family. The scriptures teach that your riches are in your family.”

Seymour called her three children her “greatest joy.”

“Of all that I have accomplished, there is no greater honor than to be your father,” he said.

Seymour praised Patriots owner Robert Kraft and former Raiders owner Al Davis and his son, Mark Davis.

He credited his success to the lessons he learned from Patriots coach Bill Belichick: work hard, be meticulous in your preparation, support your teammates and respect your opponents.

“This wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for coach Belichick,” Seymour said.

Art McNally’s longtime chief of staff gave a video speech after he was introduced as a contributor.

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LeRoy Butler jumps into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

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