Malcolm Butler Memories from the West Alabama Booth
Editor's note: Play-by-play broadcaster James Hardy was the voice of West Alabama football for the two seasons that Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler played for the Tigers. We asked him to share his thoughts after watching his incredible play on Sunday.
Wow! What an incredible and timely interception from Malcolm Butler in sealing Super Bowl XLIX for the New England Patriots.
Congratulations to him on making the play of his life and establishing his legacy on the National Football League’s biggest stage.
It’s still unbelievable for me to think that just a short season ago, I was calling play-by-play broadcasts of Butler’s collegiate games every football Saturday at the University of West Alabama.
Most of the football world saw Butler’s ability on display for the first time on Super Bowl Sunday, but for the UWA Tiger nation, UWA opponents and me, what you saw Sunday is what we saw from Butler every week during his UWA playing days. Jumping routes, intercepting passes, returning kicks and making big plays, it’s what he did every game in earning NCAA Division II All-America honors.
Butler’s journey personifies the story of the small college athlete. Throughout our country, many talented athletes get overlooked by Division I programs for reasons ranging from not being tall or fast enough to having a prior off the field transgression. That’s where programs like UWA come in to play, they offer the overlooked player an opportunity at redemption.
To me, that is where Butler’s head coach at UWA Will Hall masterfully used that selling point to attract recruits like Butler, develop their talents and grow them into winners on and off the field. For someone breaking into college sports play-by-play, it was a lot of fun seeing the team win big, play an exciting brand of football and grow as a team.
I never thought I’d see the day when a player I saw play every week at UWA have a chance to make an NFL roster much less become a Super Bowl legend. It’s a memory I’ll cherish for the rest of my career.
Congratulations Malcolm Butler.