Statue immortalizes Lambeau Leap

GREEN BAY, Wis. – LeRoy Butler, the inventor of the Lambeau Leap, is not in the statue unveiled outside the stadium on Friday that commemorates the Green Bay Packers' trademark touchdown celebration, and that's OK with him.

The former All-Pro safety wants the fans to be able to play his role.

The statue features four fans behind a padded stadium wall with room in the middle for the would-be leaper.

"I wanted the people to experience being me and being one of the fans," Butler said after the statue was unveiled. "You can actually take a picture on top of it and you can come around back, your family can get in it as if they're the paying fans."

And so it is. Visitors to the recently rededicated Harlan Plaza, which also features statues of Vince Lombardi and Curly Lambeau, will be able to pose just like Butler did when he invented the leap on Dec. 26, 1993 after he scored a touchdown against the Los Angeles Raiders and jumped into the south end zone stands.

There was nothing posed or planned about the first leap, Butler said. On the play, Butler forced a fumble that was picked up by Reggie White. Although it appeared he stepped out of bounds first, White lateraled the ball back to Butler, who returned it for a touchdown.

"It was very spontaneous," Butler said. "I can't even tell a fib and say I thought about it."

While Butler started it, players such as former Packers receiver Robert Brooks took it to another level when he made a song and video about it.

The NFL has outlawed other celebrations, but the Lambeau Leap has been grandfathered in.

"You look across the league, to me it's one of the greatest traditions in the league," Packers president Mark Murphy said. "To me, it kind of personifies the special bond our players have with the fans. We thought it'd be kind of fun to have something a little different and our fans could have some fun with."

Although Butler is not depicted in the statue, an attached plaque reads: "Since that frigid December day in 1993 when LeRoy Butler made that spontaneous leap into the arms of the fans, the Lambeau Leap has become a Packers tradition. It declares that nothing gets in the way between the Packers players and their fans. In all of football, nothing symbolizes a greater connection between players and fans than the Lambeau Leap. To the fans who welcome every player with open arms, we thank you. Here's your chance to experience your own Lambeau Leap right here, right now. Make it legendary."