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Butz tells youth to keep positive goals

April 27, 2007|by BOB PARASILITI

Dave Butz delivered a message using props.

During his speech at the 17th annual Boys and Girls Club Steak and Burger Dinner, the former Washington Redskins mammoth defensive lineman was asked if he enjoyed playing in the NFL.

"Yes ma'am," he responded while showing the back of his left hand. "These are Super Bowl rings."

He flashed the two heavily jeweled mementos on his meaty fingers that he earned from playing on the Redskins' 1983 and 1988 championship teams. They are a tribute of his great playing ability on a great team in a great era of Washington sports.

But that success carried a message he still delivers to Boys and Girls Club members nearly two decades after the fact.

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"If you're satisfied, you only get one of these rings," he said. "If you're not, you go back and get another."

Butz was never satisfied. He told the full house at the Sheraton Four Points - both young and old - they should never be satisfied either.

"Young people and older people should resist the urge to be average," Butz said. "It takes work and preparation to stick out. No one has ever erected a statue or named a street after anyone who was a pessimist."

Butz's athletic career could be used as setting an example. Butz used his physical size and athletic talents to carve out a professional career which landed him a spot on the NFL's 1980s all-decade team, with the likes of Joe Montana and Walter Payton. He chose Purdue out of 132 offers from colleges to play either football or basketball. And he spent 16 years in the NFL, the last 14 with the Redskins.

"We all have roadblocks ahead of us," he said. "It's all in the way you move around them to get things done to become successful. Winners are made, not born. In pro football, if you get knocked down and don't get up, you aren't going to be successful."

Butz hit the crossroads early in his career and it became an example of how far one can go by setting goals.

It started in his second year in the NFL when he was hit with a low block and suffered a serious injury to his knee.

"They said, 'Dave Butz, take off your pads. You're done,'" he said. "When the trainers asked the doctor how bad it was, they moved out of sight, but I could hear them. The doctor said I would never run again. I might walk, but it will be with a hitch, but I would never run again. Fortunately, I was very slow."

He vowed to himself to come back.

"The mind is a wonderful gift," Butz said. "It can help you or hinder you. I did about twice the amount of work and weights compared to the people who had cartilage surgery. There were things I wanted to accomplish and do. When I retired at age 38, I was the oldest player in the league. That was after they told me I would never play again."

The bottom line in the message was to make an effort.

"Set goals, but be realistic about yourself," said Butz, who was 6-foot-7, 295 pounds in his prime. "I always wanted to be a jockey or a ballerina. ... How would I look in a tutu? You should set goals that are attainable. Never be satisfied, because the minute you do, you fall."

Butz continued to reinforce the ideas of goals, hard work, clean living and trying hard to the crowd. For the young people, it was to grow. For the older people, it was to giving back.

"There is no greater thing than creating a safe haven for the young people," Butz said about the efforts of the Boys and Girls Clubs. "They are the ones who are going to take over."

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