A look back - Dave Butz

A few years after George Allen put together the "Over the Hill Gang", he looked into peppering some young blood into the Redskins defense. But with no high draft choices available, he traded the future for the present. It didn't hurt that the present came in the form of a 6'8", 320-pound defensive tackle named Dave Butz.

Allen sent a pair of first-round picks, 1977 and ‘78, and a second round selection in ‘79 to St. Louis for the third-year veteran. Butz was happy to leave the Cardinals, but was surprised over what it took to do so.

"(Washington) gave up too much! Rick Sullivan, the personnel manager for the Cardinals, said, ‘We don't know what Dave Butz can do.' He sat not more than six inches from me and said, ‘We don't think Dave can play in the NFL,' while we were trying to renegotiate my contract. That, from getting the firsts and a second, totally amazed me. It was shocking," said Butz. "Fortunately, none of the players they got for me, not a one of them, helped them win a game."

Butz's eyes were opened by the surroundings on and off the field during his first season with the Redskins.

"I really learned quite a bit. It was a more complex defense, from just lining up and going to one that had, I guess Chris Hanburger knew at one time, 150 different audibles. We had different types of line stunts and things of that nature, which we never had before with the Cardinals. It was a lot of learning. And the fans were far different than they were in St. Louis. They backed the team, and the stadium was so loud. It was a very uplifting feeling to be with the Redskins."

Butz and his teammates went through another transition in 1978 when former Redskins linebacker Jack Pardee replaced Allen as the head coach. "I think it put (the defense) on the field more," Butz said. "George was a very truthful, straightforward guy. He would tell you something and then turn around and tell someone else the exact same thing. He didn't pull any punches. Where some of the other coaches I played for didn't do that."

In another coaching change three seasons later, Joe Gibbs put the club on course for three Super Bowl appearances in the ‘80s; XVII in ‘82, XVIII in ‘83 and XXII in ‘87.

"The thing that struck me was that years later I talked with some of the (assistant) coaches and they said, ‘We knew that we'd win the Super Bowl because each and every guy did his own coaching. Everybody watched enough film and saw stuff on players.'"

Butz continued. "It's kind of disappointing after you win because there's nobody left to play. It just totally shuts off. It's like slamming into a brick wall at 60 m.p.h.. Everybody's fine-tuned, everybody's on the same page and knows what has to be accomplished. I don't care how many millions they're paid, if they don't believe in the system, you need to get rid of them because it's like a cancer. And we had none of that when we won the Super Bowls."

Something else Butz would have none of was missing work. During his 14 seasons, 1975-88, with Washington, the one-time Pro Bowler played in 203 games. Fourth all-time to Darrell Green, Monte Coleman and Art Monk. He said the keys were being stubborn, a fast healer and studying game films.

"I would critique myself as I would another player to see if I was tipping off or giving anything away that another team could use against me. This was very effective. It gives you so may tips. (For example) the tackle had his feet placed down aiming at you, so I had to make Charles Mann aware that the play's going outside because they're going to block down on me. Some guards put their heel up on a pass and put their heel down on a run. They'll give it away on film."

Now 49, Butz and his wife, Candyce, live in Belleville, Ill., with their three children. Dave, 22, who recently graduated from Notre Dame University; Kiffin, 16 and Jason, 13.

For the past five years, he has been the corporate president and manager of a housing community/golf course in Belleville called Orchards Golf Course.

"It has given me tremendous experience. Bidding on streets and sewers for development, dealing with insurance to workman's comp to what type of grasses we're using. The golf course is going to be sold at the end of the year, so I'm actively out looking for a new career. I wish someone from Washington, D.C., would give me a call."


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