A loss of a Great One

Wow is all I could say when I got the phone call, Denis Savage my editor left a message on my voice mail, "San Diego Chargers General Manager John Butler passed away this morning, I just thought you would like to Know" is what he said in a depressed tone and it floored me.

I immediately rushed to the Computer to see how many people picked it up. The Union Tribune had one little line that says GM John Butler passed away this morning. The Chargers.com Website had a 10 second pause with the picture of John Butler there in what I call a moment of tribute which I think is a Class Act and thankful that they did it.

I never had the privilege of meeting Mr. Butler personally but I got to watch him up-close at the camps last summer. He was always interacting with the Fans and with the coaches. Patting a player on the back and talking to everyone whether they were drafted or free agent, whether they were water boys or Line coaches as if they were his best friend. The man had a joyful personality that just welled over to everyone around him.

When John Butler first came to the Charger organization I knew things would be different and in his first year He drafts LaDainian Tomlinson, Drew Brees, Tay Cody, Zeke Moreno, and Carlos Polk and came out the gate firing. He let Carney walk under controversy, picked up Tim Dwight in his Trade of the #1 pick to Atlanta, and the nay Sayers started in on the Chargers after they proceeded to go 5-11.

Last year he let John Parrella go under controversy, fired coach Mike Riley and signed coach Marty Schottenheimer.

"He was the consummate football guy," said coach Schottenheimer. "Football, after his family, was the thing that was most important to him. He had this deep, deep passion for not only scouting but every aspect that was a part of the National Football League.

"We lost a giant here, both literally and figuratively."

He picked up Donnie Edwards in Free agency and grabbed Quentin Jammer with the Number 5 pick. He took Ben Leber and Reche Caldwell, both who started for the Chargers at one time. He picked up free agent rookies like Jason Ball and Eric Parker and the team proceeded to go 8-8 after coming out of the gate firing with a 6-1 start.

This year was no different. He released popular players like Rodney Harrison and Curtis Conway, Fred McCrary and Terrell Fletcher and the expected trade or release of Junior Seau the Most beloved Charger player since Dan Fouts and Kellen Winslow, the man everyone calls Mr. Charger. Yet he brought in players like Lorenzo Neal and David Boston both Pro Bowlers. This man lived for talent and has been quoted as saying, "I would rather pay a veteran then pay a rookie". He was a true believer that you had to earn your pay in this league.

"We were sure he had it beat," Alice Butler said.

"When he was feeling ill again he said, 'Sometimes you just underestimate the strength of your opponent.'"

My sympathies go out to the Butler family.

I know what they are going through, my mother was Diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer just Last Month. She underwent the surgery to relieve it and then was told she only had 6 months to live but like John Butler she is a fighter and will start Chemotherapy. I hope and prey she stays as strong and as positive as this man, he never once played down his illness and he always stayed positive.

The man will be missed but never forgotten.

This is a great Loss to his family and it is a great Loss to all of us.

It was truly a loss of a great one, a great man, a great friend to many, and a good soul. We will miss you.

Tom Criswell can be reached at: tcrisswell@cox.net or via the following link: Tom Criswell

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