John Butler Passes On at 56

In solemn news, San Diego Chargers General Manager John Butler, who was diagnosed with cancer last July, died of complications from the disease on Friday morning. He was 56.

John Butler, since joining the Chargers as General Manager on January 5th, 2001, had been instrumental in rebuilding the team towards greatness. Butler began his career as a scout for the Bolts back in 1985.

Butler kept his passion as a scout over the years and was last seen at the Senior Bowl in February as he prepared for the Chargers Draft. Over the years he has maintained his high level of judging talent in the Draft and undrafted free agency.

Butler has found talent at every level, from LaDainian Tomlinson to Jason Ball, from Quentin Jammer to Eric Parker.

Beyond that Butler brought in talent and was willing to do what he had to do to make San Diego competitive again.

"From the day we met, John's total focus was on one thing: winning," said Dean Spanos. "He demonstrated every day what it takes to be a winner. Anything less than a world championship wasn't good enough for John."

Butler also revamped the executive staff bringing in long-time associates A.J. Smith as Assistant General Manager and Director of Pro Personnel and Buddy Nix as Director of Player Personnel. Both worked with Butler in Buffalo.

"John and I have been working side-by-side for 21 years," said Assistant General Manager AJ Smith. "He's the best judge of talent I've ever seen. He knew what it takes to win in this league.

"Professionally, we've lost the best there is. Personally, I've lost my best friend."

"All of our thoughts and prayers right now are with his wife, Alice, and daughter, Andrea," said team President Dean Spanos. "He meant so much to everyone here. It's hard to put into words this feeling of loss. We'll miss him."

"John was a man's man and someone I admired very much," said Chargers Owner Alex Spanos. "He loved football, and he loved the Chargers. But, most of all, he loved his family. That's what I loved about him."

Butler's tenure in the NFL spanned 18 seasons, including four with the Chargers and 14 with Buffalo from 1987-2000, where he had a hand in making the Bills one of the NFL's most-successful teams of the 1990s.

Butler is survived by his wife, Alice, and daughter, Andrea. The funeral will take place in Champaign, Illinois, and a memorial service also will take place in San Diego. Further details will be provided as they become available.

From all of us at Chargers Update: "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of John Butler. He touched our hearts in so many ways by bringing Charger football back to San Diego. We will never forget."

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