People who know Adam Butler aren’t surprised at his successes. Teachers who had him in class at Duncanville High School describe him as smart, focused, friendly and a hard worker.
“He was a super kid,” said Adam’s former football coach Stacy Atkins. “Just incredibly polite. Very respectful.”
Butler, now 23 and a rookie in the NFL, is on the verge of one of the biggest accomplishments a football player can achieve: playing in the Super Bowl.
“It’s amazing,” Butler said. “I always dreamed of this as a kid but to actually to come true? It’s a dream come true.”
Math teacher Paula Cartmell remembers Adam talking about his goal to play football in college and then win a spot in the NFL. “He was just very special,” Cartmell said. “Very few students go on to achieve that, but it was clear that Adam could.”
It didn’t always appear to be a sure thing for Adam. He remembers riding the bench while playing football growing up. But by his senior year at Duncanville, Adam was voted Most Valuable Player for his work on the offensive line.
By the time he graduated in 2012, Adam was skilled enough on the field and bright enough in the classroom to receive a scholarship to further his education and play football at Vanderbilt University. Mrs. Cartmell tutored Adam so he could do his best on his entrance exam. Adam says being named MVP his senior year gave him the extra confidence he needed to pursue his dreams.
“I’m just thankful to [my teachers] for the way they treated me,” Butler said. “I was just blessed to have that opportunity.”
While at Vanderbilt, Adam got some looks from NFL scouts, and he hired an agent. So he and his family were stunned when seven rounds of the 2017 NFL draft went by and Adam remained undrafted. “His agent told us not to be discouraged,” said Adam’s mom, Kim Butler.
Adam had visited with New England Patriots’ head coach, Bill Belichick, during a visit to Vanderbilt where the legendary coach expressed in bringing Adam on the team. As the draft was ending, the phone rang. It was Belichick offering Adam a position. He took it. “It was a big relief,” Adam said. “It’s like going from zero to 100 in an instant.”
Many players make NFL teams and then are never heard from again. That has not been the case for Adam. During this rookie season, sportswriters have called him ‘one of the best defensive tackles in his class.’
The accolades are great for the former Duncanville Panther, but playing in the Super Bowl on February 4 takes things to another level altogether. “We never thought we end up here,” said Adam’s mom, Kim Butler.
Stacy Atkins has been watching his former player all season and says he’ll be rooting for him on Super Bowl Sunday. “Makes you feel really proud that he came from here and that we knew him when he was younger,” Atkins said.
Paula Cartmell will be watching too. “We always watch, but It’s so strange to be watching and one of your own kids is up there playing,” Cartmell said.
Butler’s family is making the most of this amazing opportunity. They’re traveling to Minneapolis for the game. “It is surreal,” Kim Butler said. “But we’re very excited.”