Favorite Time of the Year

Some of us live for Christmas, some of us live for Hanukah, yet others live for birthday dinners. San Diego Chargers General Manager John Butler lived for the NFL Draft. Despite orchestrating the strings of an NFL franchise known as the San Diego Chargers, Butler played the fine tune that is the NFL Draft to perfection.

Make no mistake about it, John Butler loved the San Diego Chargers, he loved the players, and he loved the fans.

Every year after the season, Butler got even more pumped. This was his time of year. During the season he let the players play, and the coaches coach. He did not interfere.

"It comes Sunday, when it really counts, Coach better have the player he wants and desires in there. Not what John wants or John feels best...Coach has gotta have the people he feels best with. He coaches them on Sunday, not John Butler," he said just after the 2002 season ended.

When it came down to personnel, he was hands on, all the time. During the offseason he had one goal in mind; make this club the best it could be.

"Whatever it takes to be winners is what I wanna do," Butler said in his season ending press conference.

"It's a sad day, but I'd feel selfish if I was saddened in this day, after talking to him last week and knowing that he was at peace," defensive end Marcellus Wiley said. "Talking to him made me feel like, OK, as always, he's leading the charge and he knows what he's doing."

Every year Butler went to every All-Star game he could, Bowl games, the Senior Bowl, and the Paradise Bowl to name a few. He was a regular at the scouting combines in Indianapolis. He scoured the colleges for that forgotten jewel and found them at every turn. Don Beebe, Phil Hansen from small colleges, Jason Ball and Eric Parker, undrafted free agents a year ago.

While most of the NFL teams bring in players at the top of their list for pre-Draft visits, Butler corners the other side of the market. The late round gems, the players who may not be drafted at all stop on by the office.

His season never ended, Butler worked on bringing in talent all year long and the mark he leaves has brought honor back to the San Diego Chargers.

"Nobody is gonna work as hard as us in this league that's one thing. As long as I can still draw breath we are gonna work this, and we are gonna get to a point where we need to be. That I can guarantee you."

John Butler is still working the Draft from heaven. Even in his absence, his presence will be felt for years to come.

Thank you "Papa Bear" for all you have brought to the San Diego Chargers organization. My heart goes out to your family and friends, we miss you already.

In loving memory,

Denis Savage
WWW- "We Will Win"

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net or via the following link:: Denis Savage

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