John Butler Still a Trooper

Chargers GM John Butler was scheduled for his sixth round of chemotherapy treatments yesterday in his battle against lung cancer that was diagnosed over the summer. He has been energized by his team, which stands at 6-1 coming out of a bye week.

"That is some great therapy," he said via phone to reporters.

It is hard to argue against Butler for his chances at winning NFL's Executive of the Year. They have the best record in the AFC and the work Butler has done during the past few offseasons has been miraculous. Butler brought in Marty Schottenheimer, who was fired after one year in Washington, even though his regular season work has netted him just one losing season during his coaching career. Butler traded away the chance of Michael Vick to get LaDainian Tomlinson and somehow nabbed Drew Brees in the second round.

This is the same Butler who helped build the Bills' four Super Bowl teams in the early '90s. His eye for talent has continued this year. He nabbed Toniu Fonoti in the second round this year and the mammoth offensive lineman is getting better with each passing game. He also struck gold in the undrafted free agent phase. Butler signed center Jason Ball, who has replaced Cory Raymer who went out with a ruptured Achilles, a man who has solidified the offensive line, Josh Norman who inches away from a breakout campaign as a tight end, and Vernon Fox who will step in and start this week in place of Pro Bowler Rodney Harrison. Not too shabby. We didn't even include the rest of his draft picks from this year.

Amazingly Butler missed just one day of camp stating, "I was so tired, I just didn't come in," he said.

Schottenheimer said, "We were all shocked when we learned of it. But if you didn't know, then you wouldn't have any idea he's had any problems. He's here, works full days, travels with us and it's business as usual."

Butler did not take the news to well at first, as can be expected. "All you think about is your family," he said. "That's just the crusher. My wife and daughter are just everything to me. She's just a senior in high school."

Yet Butler agonizes about not being able to be on the road to scout college talent, something he loves to do. He's one of the best personnel evaluators as evidenced by his work throughout his career.

"The treatment just doesn't allow it," he said.

As far as the prognosis, he said, "You don't know. They are working on it. It's a tough, fast-growing cancer, but it's a tough-dying one, too. You go with crossed fingers and do everything they tell you to do. You have to put a lot of faith in the doctors. I think it's looking a lot better than when they first saw it."

He will continue chemotherapy on advice from his doctors, "As long as it is reducing the tumor, they want to go that route," he said. "Then whack it with radiation. I just do as they tell me."

He just loves to be around the team he so carefully constructed. "This is a tremendous group to be around," Butler said. "My outlook on life is great, I'm a lucky man."

A lucky man indeed.

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