Bobby Butler, who was a cornerback with the Atlanta Falcons for more than a decade, has watched two sons (Brenton and Brice) become star athletes at Norcross. In this latest installment of "Getting to Know...," the 1981 Florida State grad talks with staff writer Corey Clark on a variety of topics, ranging from the current recruitment of his son Brice, a wide receiver on the Norcross football team, to his own playing days with the Falcons to his recruitment by Bobby Bowden.
CC: What was it like to be recruited by Bobby Bowden?
BB: You know, I was a kid that was primarily recruited in the state of Florida - Florida State, Florida, Miami. Also Michigan State and Alabama recruited me hard, but when I met with Coach Bowden ... I made my mind up that I wanted to play for that guy. I never went on an official visit, I never even got a chance to watch them play, but after talking with him I knew that's where I wanted to go.
CC: What was it about him that made it so appealing?
BB: You can pick up when somebody is being truthful to you. And just the way he expressed himself, you felt that feeling.
CC: People may not realize that Florida State was barely even on the map before you got there - how neat is it for you to be a part of building that program to where it is today?
BB: It was a good thing. Before we went there Florida State was not a big deal. They went 5-6 the first year Coach Bowden was there. Then we went 10-2 my first year (in 1977) and won the Tangerine Bowl. And my last two years, we lost to Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. But my last year, we should have been playing Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. I'm still ticked off about that. They were No. 1, we were No. 2, but they played Notre Dame. I'm not sure they worked that out.
CC: You're going through the whole recruiting process again with your son Brice (who has been offered by most of the top programs in the nation), how different is it now than when you were going through it?
BB: It's changed a lot with the communication. Back in our day, nobody had cell phones or computers or e-mail or fax machines. You could only call me at home. But the rules now, you can text players all the time, even when you can't call them. So you're still communicating with them. I don't quite understand how they get away with that, but they do. And that alone makes it real different. Also, I remember times when college coaches would be waiting outside my house for me to get home. And that got kind of old.
CC: All right I have to ask. You're a Florida State alum and the Seminoles have offered Brice, so there's a chance he could play for the same college coach you did. Has there been any prodding at all on your part to get him down to Tallahassee?
BB: (Laughs) Absolutely not. That's why we're taking all these visits. I'm not pushing him anywhere. It has nothing to do with me or his mother. It's not about us, it's about Brice and finding a home for him. I mean, we just went down to the University of Florida and you know that was hard for me (laughs). And I think they were a little careful around him. But there was a point in the visit where they were showing him trophies, and they were showing him that they had beaten Florida State this year and the year before that. So I said, hey let's go out here and look at the 1970s and 1980s - there were four years back in the 80s where (Florida) lost four straight. So that sort of ended that conversation.
CC: OK, what were your impressions when the Falcons drafted Deion Sanders in 1989?
BB: Well, I had talked with Deion before we even drafted him. I thought I would give him a call and I had a great conversation with him. I understood exactly what he was doing with his two-sided personality. There was 'Primetime' and then there was him. He was just marketing himself. And he did great doing that. And what a great guy, one of the best guys I played with in my life.
CC: He just wasn't much of a tackler?
BB: What happens to you, when you're small your tackling backs up a little bit ... he was a great player in the league. And when you play corner, if you're making four or five tackles a game something's wrong. You're not playing any wishbones or anything.
CC: So who was the best receiver you played against? Jerry Rice?
BB: Jerry Rice was easy for me to cover, believe it or not. I used to kick his behind when we played. I'll tell you, the hardest guy for me was Mark Clayton. I didn't get a chance to play him too often, but he was tough. He was quicker than me and rarely did I go up against a guy that was quicker than me.
CC: What receiver talked the most trash to you?
BB: You know what? One time, in 1989 we were playing the Indianapolis Colts up in Indianapolis and they had this rookie on their team by the name of Andre Rison.
And he talked more noise than anybody I'd ever heard. And then a year later we were teammates.
CC: How did you and your wife meet?
BB: It was in Florida and we met my senior year of high school at a track meet. A month later we started dating and we've been together ever since. In fact, this month is 30 years.
CC: So what's the secret?
BB: (Laughs) Let me tell you this. The day I got married there was an older gentleman at the wedding. And he told me the first thing I needed to learn was to say 'Yes, dear.'
And I didn't understand what he was talking about. I was thinking I was going to be the man and I was going to wear the pants in this relationship. But let me tell you, I totally understand it now. If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.