NFL Notes: Steelers' Hall of Famer Jack Butler dies at 85

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NFL Notes: Steelers' Hall of Famer Jack Butler dies at 85
May 12, 2013, 9:00 am
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PITTSBURGH -- Jack Butler, who helped revolutionize the way cornerbacks played in the NFL during his Hall of Fame career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, died Saturday after a lengthy battle with a staph infection. He was 85.

Butler's son John said his father's heart stopped suddenly Saturday morning. The elder Butler had spent the last several months in the hospital dealing with a staph infection that plagued him since his career ended in 1959.

"It had been a long road," John Butler said. "It wasn't completely out of the blue."

Unlike Butler's professional career.

The Pittsburgh native played wide receiver at St. Bonaventure and was planning on returning to school to get his master's degree when he received a phone call from Steelers business manager Fran Fogarty in the summer of 1951. To be honest, Butler assumed Fogarty had the wrong number.

"I didn't know anything about professional football," Butler said.

It didn't matter. Over the next nine years, Butler became one of the NFL's top defensive backs, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound wrecking ball known for his physical play and uncanny knack for getting to the ball. Butler intercepted 52 passes during his career, including a league-high 10 in 1957. He made the Pro Bowl four times and was chosen first-team All-NFL three times before a knee injury in 1959 ended his career (see full story).

Ryan taking over defensive play calling 
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rex Ryan is going back to his roots.

The New York Jets coach said Saturday that he will control the play-calling on defense, as he did during his first two seasons with the team. Ryan, a defensive coordinator in Baltimore before being hired as a head coach in New York, left most of those duties to Mike Pettine the last two years.

"I just think for me, and really the football team, in our situation, we're better-served if I'm on the defensive side and making sure we've got the rules set and the way I see them set," Ryan said after the second day of rookie minicamp.

Dennis Thurman replaced Pettine as the team's defensive coordinator when Pettine took the same role with Buffalo this offseason. Ryan insisted his increased role on defense is not a reflection on Thurman, a long-time assistant (see full story).

Internet kicker attempting to make Lions' roster
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The scouting report on Havard Rugland is certainly an odd one.

"He's good at kicking the ball into cars that are driving down the road ... boats and stuff like that," Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. "But I don't think you get any more points for doing that. We've got to kick it between the goalposts."

Rugland's story is unlike that of any other player at rookie minicamp. The Norwegian kicker became an Internet sensation after producing video footage of all sorts of quirky trick shots.

Rugland back-heels the ball nonchalantly into a trash can and kicks it to somebody on a boat on a lake. In one goofy stunt, he lines up for what looks like a chip-shot field goal - only he's not trying to split the uprights. Instead, his kick sails gently through a basketball hoop.

"I kept hitting the rim, and I wanted it to go straight in," Rugland said. "That's a lot of work."

Now Rugland faces the more mundane challenge of mastering the fundamentals as an NFL kicker. The Lions signed him last month and are giving him a chance to make the team (see full story).

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