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Thursday, June 13, 2024

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Titans’ Malcolm Butler: From champion to cheerleader during global pandemic

by Jason Reed —

Best known for making the most impactful interception in Super Bowl history, Tennessee Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler is still doing big things on the field. And during a time of crisis, he has stepped up off it as well.

In an effort to help others during the COVID-19 pandemic, the All-Pro has partnered with Meharry Medical College, the nation’s largest private, independent historically black institution dedicated to educating health professionals, to fund the purchase of protective equipment and medical materials for health care workers and first responders. Additionally, as part of his financial commitment to fight the expanding health crisis in Tennessee, Butler will pay for first responders’ meals in coordination with a local, minority-owned small business. Back in his hometown of Vicksburg, Miss., Butler has donated to the United Way to provide meals for more than 600 senior citizens.

During a recent phone interview with The Undefeated, Butler explained that he’s proud to be in a position to help.


I’m not from Tennessee. But I work in Tennessee. This is where I play. So I wanted to partner with people who have a great record of serving the community. Meharry has been serving the Nashville community for over 140 years. They’ve been doing it for a long time. You can tell by their consistency that they’ve been doing it the right way for a long time. And this is such an important time, there’s so much going wrong out here, and I want to help the best way I can.

Athletes are very fortunate to live the way we live. We’re very fortunate to make the amount of money we make to play a child’s game as grown men. So if you can help out, help out. I feel like that’s how the whole world should be, but it’s not. In this situation, most definitely, it should be. Anything that I can do to help the world be better in this situation, anything to help the world keep going and to help those who need to be supported, that’s what I’m going to do. At the end of the day, we’re all family. That’s the way I look at it. And with nothing going right, with nothing going well, you’ve got to take care of family. No one is doing all the things they could be doing or want to be doing right now because of what’s going on. So why not be there for each other?

Whatever they [health care workers, first responders and seniors] need, that’s what I want to help with. That’s what I want to help them get. The main thing is, I want to help everyone out here who’s trying to keep the world rolling. They need equipment. They need stuff to keep them safe. Most definitely. They’re out here trying to take care of people. We need to be sure they’re getting the things they need to do their jobs.

For Vicksburg, I reached out to the mayor of my hometown. I asked him what was needed. I wanted to know the city’s biggest need. He told me it’s helping the seniors. He said supporting the seniors is most important. They’re not able to go to the grocery store. They’re not able to eat. So we’ll be providing those meals. We’ll make sure they’ll eat. People will be able to pick up the meals for them. If they don’t have anyone who can pick up the meals, some of the Vicksburg city employees will take the food to them individually. I think that’s a great idea.

From where I’ve come from, I understand how hard it can be for people. No offense to guys who are top draft picks. But if a guy comes out of USC and goes in the first round, it’s different for him than it was for me. It’s different for a guy who goes to a D-II school and then is an undrafted free agent. You’re going to understand more things, understand what people go through, when you’re in the dark more than in the light. You’re going to understand that hard road for people out here. Why? Because you’ve been there. When you’re coming from a lower level, it keeps you humble. It keeps you level. When you look at things, it’s coming from a humble place. You just remember that no matter how much money and fame you have, you should always help people. You should do the right things.

Right now, the world isn’t normal. But the world will get back to normal. With everything being delayed [in the NFL] — workouts, probably OTAs [organized team activities] and probably minicamps — it’s different. It’s very different. We all know that. But we’re professional athletes. We’re supposed to be professionals. We’re supposed to do pro things — like being in shape. Whenever we go back to work, we need to be ready to go back to work. I hope that’s the mindset of everyone. I know that’s the mindset I have. That’s the mindset we all need to have. But right now, we have the health care workers and the first responders on the field. Professional athletes, or whatever you do in life, we’re on the sideline rooting for them. We have to support the people on the field doing all of this for us.

Liner Notes

The New England Patriots led the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 with only 20 seconds remaining in Super Bowl XLIX, with the Seahawks on the Patriots’ 1-yard line. Butler intercepted a pass at the goal line, making the victory-clinching play in the Patriots’ fourth Super Bowl championship. A two-time Super Bowl winner with New England, Butler in 2016 was selected as a second-team All-Pro. In 2018, the former undrafted free agent signed a five-year, $61 million contract with the Titans that included $30 million in guaranteed money.

(Jason Reid is the senior NFL writer at The Undefeated. He enjoys watching sports, especially any games involving his son and daughter.)


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