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St. Bonaventure, Steelers great Jack Butler passes away at 85

By Tim Graham

Jack Butler, the greatest college football player in Western New York history, died this morning from heart failure. He was 85.

Butler had been in and out of the hospital recently because of a staph infection that had plagued him since a gruesome knee injury forced his retirement from the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1959.

Butler was an incredible example of overachievement. The Pittsburgh native was a walk-on receiver at St. Bonaventure even though he didn't play a down of prep football. Undrafted in 1951, he received a tryout with the Pittsburgh Steelers because St. Bonaventure's athletics director was the brother of Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney.

Butler somehow made the Steelers as a defensive lineman, but because of injuries to other players he eventually became a four-time Pro Bowl defensive back and later a highly respected scout.

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last summer.


Jack Butler
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |