"Honesty, integrity, professionalism, character, and most importantly – humility," that's how Coach Chuck Pagano described Colts safety Darius Butler, calling him one of the most humble guys he knows.
"I could go on and talk at length – hours and hours about how special this guy is and what he's meant to our organization," he said. "Not only what he's done on the football field and what he's done inside this building since he's been here, but what he's done outside this building and what he's done not only in the Indianapolis community, but his own community down in Fort Lauderdale and what he's done abroad."
Pagano called Butler to the podium in the Colts media room on Friday afternoon and presented him with a plaque.
"It's an honor and privilege to announce Darius Butler as the Colts' nominee for Walter Payton Man of the Year."
Calling it a humbling experience, Butler explained that service has been a huge part of his life – not only since he entered the league in 2009, but going back to his upbringing in South Florida.
"My parents were always giving, even though there were a lot of us," he said. "As kids, my mom and dad always found a way to give back to other people – whether it was people we went to church with or the people that were at our school, there was always a place in their heart to give back. That was definitely passed down to me."
Now, he's passing it down to the next generation.
"It's important for kids to have role models and positive people to look up to and interact with – coming to their schools, coming to their communities to see them. Reaching back to touch somebody – that's always important."
Working with youth is near and dear to his heart. It's something he does a lot of. But Butler recently served at the Wheeler Mission passing out shoes and assisting with foot exams. And it had a lasting impact on him.
"It's so crazy how things happen to people. It can happen to anybody – if you don't have that support system, that family that I'm blessed to have," he said. "I'm talking to guys who live down at the homeless shelter who have owned businesses before, who have college degrees, they just fell on hard times."
That's the stuff that keeps him grounded and helps him keep perspective – no matter how hard things get on the football field. It's a reminder to stay faithful, stay grateful, and stay focused on what it's really about.
Football gave Darius Butler a platform. What he's doing with it is creating a legacy.
The Indianapolis Colts nominated Darius Butler for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award!
In 2009, he established the Darius Butler Foundation to tackle hunger and inspire at-risk youth to strive for success – on the field, in the classroom, and in life.
"This is the more important stuff. This is the lasting impact you can have on a life," he said. "You never know how far that planted seed can grow."
For Darius Butler, the seed planted in him brought him all the way to the NFL – where he's nominated for the league's most prestigious award.
Congratulations to Darius Butler, the Colts' nominee for Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.