GREEN BAY, Wis. – Crezdon Butler was sitting in his Marietta, Georgia, home watching the NFL on television a week ago, just like the rest of America.
At the time, all Butler could do was hope. He was hoping for another team to give him a chance, to take him from being a spectator to a participant in professional football again. So to understand how one of the most unlikely victories in Detroit Lions history came down to the hand of its newest player, start in Georgia with a dad trying to avoid running errands with his kids.
Butler was about as far away from breaking up an Aaron Rodgers pass as can be.
“[The kids] know on the weekend not to bother me on Sunday watching football,” Butler said. “Saturday we’re going out, watching movies. It was good, man. It wasn’t that I was stressing. I just wanted to work. I wanted to play football.”
He didn’t know the chance would come so soon, in such a massive moment, either. Heck, if you told him Saturday when he signed that he’d be in the game against the Packers – let alone make that play against Davante Adams in that moment, he wouldn’t have believed you.
There’s not anyone in the Lions locker room – if they were being truthful – who would have bought that.
“Nah, nah, I couldn’t have imagined it [Saturday],” Butler said. “But once I got in the game, I knew they were going to come at me.”
If he didn’t know it, everyone in the game told him. Lions safety Glover Quin went up to him and said Rodgers would be targeting him. The staredown he received from Rodgers as he ran onto the field confirmed that as well.
So Butler figured he would get picked on – and he was right. Rodgers went at Butler on what would have been a game-tying two-point conversion. Butler stuck his hand out and the tip of it broke up Rodgers’ pass. Crisis averted. Lead saved.
Even the guy who signed him Saturday, interim general manager Sheldon White, couldn’t say he expected that.
“Well,” White said before pausing. “His career numbers aren’t the best, but I know one thing about that kid: That kid works his tail off. He always has. He’s one of our fastest guys coming out of the combine. He works and he just gets better every day.
“I was proud of him because when you’re on the couch for two months and no one’s called and you’re getting a workout, it’s hard for some guys to continue to focus and stay prepared. He was obviously prepared for this moment and it’s a big moment for him.”
It was, Butler said, the biggest play of his career – especially considering the timing and the circumstance.
Butler had been in and out of football this season. He was cut by Detroit out of training camp, signed with Seattle before Week 6 and was cut by the Seahawks the next week. All the while, he stayed in touch with Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, updating him on his status. This was familiar territory for Butler, on his eighth NFL team since 2010.
Butler also reached out to White – but didn’t necessarily think anything would come of it. But Rashean Mathis wasn’t getting better from his concussion and was eventually placed on injured reserve, and the Lions needed another outside cornerback.
The Lions reached out to Butler’s agent Thursday. Butler worked out Friday, signed Saturday and made a massive play Sunday.
So he came trotting out on the field, catching Rodgers’ eye.
“I told him when he came in the game, I said, ‘It’s a hell of a change from last week,’ “ Wilson said. “You know what I mean. I asked him earlier in the game what he was doing last week and he said he was at home, chilling, watching the game.
“That is next man up, to a T, man.”
And that man who was sitting at home a week ago became a key factor in the Lions first win in Wisconsin since 1991.
“Man, it feels like a Super Bowl,” Butler said. “You don’t want to compare it to the Super Bowl, but it was unbelievable, unreal.
“Since ’91? I was four years old. It’s like, man, it was crazy. It was meant to be.”