Adam Butler has made it to the pinnacle of his profession — a Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots.
But it wasn’t always that way for the former Duncanville standout who has deep East Texas roots.
Butler related his experiences to more than 100 area junior high and high school students as well as a large contingent of family and friends Tuesday as part of the Excellent Team Choice program at the Carthage High School Auditorium.
The 25-year-old backup defensive tackle is getting ready for his third year with the Patriots and was adamant about “keeping it real” as he related some of his experiences and answered the audience’s questions.
“I came to talk to the younger generation that has aspirations to be pro athletes. That’s how hard it is. I had to claw my way from the back to the front. When (New England coach) Bill Belicheck talks, I’m in the front.”
His bio says he’s from Dallas and graduated from Duncanville High, “but my heart is from East Texas.”
Part of being from East Texas includes being “Cornbread Fed.” That is how Butler went from being a running back when he started playing as a 7-year-old, moving to linebacker and eventually the offensive line.
“I love football and it was my passion,” he said. “But as much as I love football, I had trouble with school and a rode the bench for two years.”
One of the coaches had promised he would try to get Butler in a game as an eighth-grader, but as their opponents overcame a 21-0 lead the chances were shrinking.
“I started taking my uniform off right there on the sideline,” he said. “And I finally just walked off the field. I was so defeated I just gave up.
“I did hear a little noise a little while later and saw that my parents were standing up for me.”
While the support of his parents got Butler to give football another shot, he would give up the sport one more time in his freshman year.
“Everybody else was playing on the varsity and I was playing on the freshman team,” he said. “My Dad told me I could quit, but told me that I would always wonder what if?”
Butler would finally get things turned around at Duncanville when they brought in Coach Jeff Dicus.
“He groomed me to be a professional and he instilled in me to never be complacent.”
From there it was on to Vanderbilt to play football for the Commodores. He wasn’t drafted coming out of the Nashville school but signed as a free agent with the New England Patriots in 2017, reaching the Super Bowl before falling to the Eagles.
The Pats would win last season and Butler had his Super Bowl ring to proudly display with all 422 diamonds and 10 sapphires.
But as much as he values the ring — he told someone who asked what he wanted for it that “he wouldn’t trade the world for it” — there are still other things more important to him.
His dreams are at the top of the list.
Butler used an audience member to help demonstrate how important our dreams should be.
He first handed him a green Nerf football, told him it was his dreams and to not let go of them no matter what.
But then proceeded to load the teen down with other balls that signified other things like football, family, faith, job and friends.
The teenager was told to walk across the stage toward his goals, and Butler was able to knock many of the balls loose. But following the first instructions he was given, the teen held onto his dreams.
Butler left the group with three points to follow:
1. Don’t every give up.
2. Remember that sacrifice breeds success.
3. Be the best you.