May 2nd, 2013
12:52 PM ET

Ex-NFL player's support for gay NBA player apparently costs him church appearance

By Dan Merica, CNN
[twitter-follow screen_name='DanMericaCNN']

Washington (CNN) – LeRoy Butler, a former safety for the Green Bay Packers, is one of many professional athletes to tweet support for Jason Collins, the NBA player who came out as gay this week.

“Congrats to Jason Collins,” Butler tweeted April 29, the day Collins came out in a Sports Illustrated cover story.

But Butler says the four-word tweet cost him a speaking appearance at a Wisconsin church.

He was scheduled to speak at the church (whose name he has not revealed) about bullying and his new book, "The LeRoy Butler Story: From Wheelchair to the Lambeau Leap." That was until the church, according to Butler, told him he was no longer welcome because of his tweet in support of Collins.

"The pastor called me and that's when we got into the old, the whole religion thing about gay people and things of that nature and the conversation just went back and forth for us a couple of minutes," Butler told Anderson Cooper on Thursday.

After the exchange with the pastor, Butler took to twitter to express his frustration.

Butler later tweeted that “some parents went to the church and complained about my tweet” supporting Collins. The church, according to Butler, said that if the football player apologized, he would be allowed to speak.

"They basically said this, if you apologize, ask God for forgiveness and remove the tweet, you'll be able to do this speaking engagement with the kids," he said. "I won't do that. That's taking my dignity and respect away."

He continued: "I told the pastor, blame it on my mom because my mom brought me up to love everybody."

Butler recently tweeted that the church apologized for the incident and thanked him “for not releasing the church name.”

Butler played 11 years, from 1990 to 2001, with the Packers and helped them win a Super Bowl in 1997. He was a four-time All-Pro selection, the highest honor for a year of work in the NFL, and is credited with inventing the Lambeau Leap, the iconic touchdown celebration in which a Packer leaps into the Lambeau Field stands to celebrate with fans.

As for Butler's stance on gay athletes in professional sports, he said they have "support from straight guys like me that won't judge them."

"If we win a Super Bowl ring, I don't care who you bring to the ring ceremony, I just want to win the ring," Butler said. "That's what it's all about. ... Isn't that what it's all about? Winning the championship? Not who is in my bed when I turn the lights out."

Since retiring, Butler has been active in the Green Bay community, and his Facebook page chronicles appearances and speeches he has given to churches in the area.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Same-sex marriage

soundoff (3,002 Responses)
  1. Meowser

    As much as it pains me to say anything good about anyone even remotely connected with the despised Green Bay Packers, I must say WELL DONE LeRoy Butler.

    Well done, sir!

    May 3, 2013 at 9:43 am |
  2. HerrDr

    Sounds like LeRoy just got bullied by the church, how ironic!

    May 3, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • lol??

      Moos got thrown under da bus.

      May 3, 2013 at 10:18 am |
  3. Linda Luttrell

    Sounds like a lot more people should have a mom like Leroy Butler's. We are supposed to love everyone...and that most important part...it is not our jobs to judge...

    May 3, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • lol??

      LUV Moos and reset her biological clock. Where's da whistle, Ref?

      May 3, 2013 at 10:20 am |
  4. dzerres

    Aaah, churches. Isn't that the place for love, tolerance, forgiveness, no judgement (lest ye be judged), all that kind of stuff? Apparently not! Come on, release the name of that church. We want to know the bigots among us – the tax exempt bigots at that.

    May 3, 2013 at 9:35 am |
  5. Patrick

    Good on you Mr. Butler! I find it interesting that he was going to speak to kids at this church about bullying. Looking at this it seems like Butler responded to this church's bullying quite effectively!

    May 3, 2013 at 9:33 am |
  6. Mack

    Leroy doesn't need this lame church's $8,500. Atta boy for standing your ground and not caving to these primitive lemmings.

    May 3, 2013 at 9:29 am |
  7. thd

    It's not about religion. Religion will say hate gays. Jesus was not religious, He loves all mankind regardless of being gay or not. He died for everyone. However, being gay is not biblical. It's the human race and sin that has said that being gay is alright. God made a man for a woman and vice versa. I love those who call themselves gay. They were not born gay. Look into God's Word and find your freedom. It's there. I would not bring in a speaker that supports the whole gay thing. It is contrary to God's Word. It's time for the church to stand up for biblical principles yet do it in loving manner.

    May 3, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • Primewonk

      thd wrote, "They were not born gay."

      You nutters keep posting this. Yet when asked to post the scientific evidence that gays choose to be gay, not single solitary one of you idîots will do it.

      May 3, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • tallulah13

      There is more evidence that shows homosexuality is innate than there is proof of any god.

      May 3, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • nclaw441

      Religion does NOT say to hate gays, or anyone else. Many believers DO say, we think certain behavior is wrong. We all do wrong, but we ask forgiveness. If you deny that what you are doing is even wrong, we must part ways. That doesn't mean that they HATE anyone.

      Disagreement is not hate.

      May 3, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • Madtown

      Look into God's Word and find your freedom
      Where do I find God's word? I'm interested in reading.

      May 3, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • Friend

      If you do want to quote Leviticus, you MUST stop cherry picking the one verse that supports your bigotry. You must embrace all of it. You must not allow a menstruating woman or a midget to enter the church. You must keep Kosher (bacon = hell). If your neighbor's slave dies while you are raping her, you must compensate your neighbor for the full value of the slave plus 20%

      May 3, 2013 at 9:41 am |
  8. Nancy L

    Leroy, good for you! You're me kind of person!

    May 3, 2013 at 9:19 am |
  9. Nancy L

    Leroy .... Good for you!!!! You're my kind of person!

    May 3, 2013 at 9:18 am |
  10. sparky

    Thumbs up for you, Mr. Butler. Don't take the $8500. It doesn't come from God.

    May 3, 2013 at 9:17 am |
  11. Believe

    Its fine to be gay but if you are a cristian they will shoot you down for what you believe. I get it they are a part of our community know . What i do not get is where is the tolerance for the way other people feel about this subject and the respect they deserve also. But no you are quick to brand us as BIGOTS wow where is the tolerance know.

    May 3, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • Stevo

      Where is the grammar now?

      May 3, 2013 at 9:17 am |
    • Primewonk

      What kind of "tolerance" is it when ignorant religious hômophobic nutters seek to deprive a group of US citizens from having equal rights?

      May 3, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • tallulah13

      So, "Believe", who is stopping you from being with the person you love because you are a christian? Who is beating you up for being a christian? Who is firing you from your job because you are a christian?

      Your right to discriminate against others is not a right that is protected. This church had the right to cancel this show, but they don't have the right to stop others from commenting on and/or condemning them.

      May 3, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • John

      I did not create the word BIGOT. It was already in existance in the English vocabulary and has a definition WAY before Equal Rights movements started. The problem people like you have is owning up to what you are. The behavior expressed by you (and others that think like you) is called BIGOT. Simple fact. Own it and move on.

      May 3, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • Brother Maynard

      BELIEVE sez:
      "But no you are quick to brand us as BIGOTS wow where is the tolerance know"
      ... UH ... so you want us to be tolerant of your intolerance?
      WHY do you tolerate us being intolerant of YOUR intolerance??

      May 3, 2013 at 10:38 am |
  12. steve

    what is the name of that church?

    May 3, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • Mack

      I'm sure it will come out soon enough and they'll be hit with a crud storm of bad press. Deservedly so, if you ask me.

      May 3, 2013 at 9:32 am |
  13. Yabochuk

    What's the big deal? That's what they believe. They didn't picket his house, or have the media make his life unbearable until he agreed to sensitivity training. Now the Gay mafia on the other hand....

    May 3, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • I Am God

      Seriously? Westboro Church anyone? Derp da derp.

      May 3, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • Austin

      they are raising tuition at Duke university so that anyone who wants can have a free se.x change operation. That's so intelligent.

      May 3, 2013 at 8:54 am |
    • midwest rail

      No, Austin, it is not tuition.

      May 3, 2013 at 8:57 am |
    • Yabochuk

      The Westboro freaks are ambulance chasing con men. How about this church "IamGOd"? Yeah. that's what I thought.

      May 3, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • Science

      Pound sand Austin again SPLAT !

      Free speech helps educate the masses

      Gravity is not up for debate !

      BY the way ...................Splat goes a fairy in the sky !...............bye bye tinker bell !

      Einstein's Gravity Theory Passes Toughest Test Yet

      Apr. 25, 2013 — A strange stellar pair nearly 7,000 light-years from Earth has provided physicists with a unique cosmic laboratory for studying the nature of gravity. The extremely strong gravity of a massive neutron star in orbit with a companion white dwarf star puts competing theories of gravity to a test more stringent than any available before


      Hey James Madison................religion has none it looks like.............with the comments on this blog.

      The Big question is ETHICS ! does religion have any ?

      The Ethics of Resurrecting Extinct Species

      Apr. 8, 2013 — At some point, scientists may be able to bring back extinct animals, and perhaps early humans, raising questions of ethics and environmental disruption.


      April 30, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |

      May 1, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |

      Dinosaur Egg Study Supports Evolutionary Link Between Birds and Dinosaurs: How Troodon Likely Hatched Its Young


      And NO ANGELS the pope KICKED them OFF the TEAM last year !

      From Soup to Cells—the Origin of Life


      May 3, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • I Am God

      Yabochuck stop denying the obvious. Trying to deny that the Westboro Church isn't a church now? Denying the fact that they go a head and picket people's front lawns and such because they are Gay? You are a fool looking to blame only Gays.

      May 3, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The cost of attending Duke has increased by around 5% annually for the last couple of decades.
      The change to the health plan consti/tutes 0.3% of this year's 4.5% increase.
      It's a drop in the bucket.

      May 3, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • Yabochuk

      If they say they are a church they are a church. They however AREN'T the Church in question.

      May 3, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • I Am God

      Yobuchuck you can't shove people away with your bigotry. The Westboro Church is indeed a church and is a stain to your religion, but judging by your bigotry against gays you don't care.

      May 3, 2013 at 9:05 am |
    • sam stone

      austin: what is unintelligent about it? it is part of the health care package. waaaah, waaaah, fvcking waaaah

      May 3, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • Yabochuk


      @I Am God

      I believe in America. Freedom to believe in your faith. I'm not a narrow minded fascist like your ilk. Too bad so sorry for you.

      May 3, 2013 at 9:45 am |
  14. Believe

    Just because people Believe in the word of God and stand for there belief they are persecuted, why is that so wrong.
    The guy comunity can say what ever they want and try to shove it down our throats and we are suppose to stay quite Please. Leave and let Leave but don't try to take away my belief in God and what the word stands for.

    May 3, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • I Am God

      Seriously? He showed his support for someone that was gay; he didn't state he was going to call it out in the middle of a church. Bigotry at its finest.

      May 3, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • sam stone

      the vaunted christian persecution complex

      the persecures claim persecution

      how ironic

      May 3, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • sam stone

      believe whatever you wish

      do not use it as a (transparant) justification for bigotry

      do not use it to deny others equal rights

      May 3, 2013 at 8:56 am |
    • Eddie

      You want bigotry ..How about the Gaystapo media oppressing someone for NOT having an opinion????


      May 3, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • Friend

      1. There is no "Word of God." Only the words of men. God didn't write the Bible. Men did.

      2. The Old Testament contradicts a lot of Jesus Christ's teachings. Stop citing Leviticus; Jesus doesn't quote it.

      3. If you do want to quote Leviticus, you MUST stop cherry picking the one verse that supports your bigotry. You must embrace all of it. You must not allow a menstruating woman or a midget to enter the church. You must keep Kosher (bacon = hell). If your neighbor's slave dies while you are raping her, you must compensate your neighbor for the full value of the slave plus 20%.

      Know your book, dummies!

      May 3, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • Madtown

      Believe in the word of God
      Where do I find this "word of God"? I'd seriously be interested in reading it. The natural world is an amazing place, I can only imagine that words crafted by God are equally amazing.

      May 3, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • tallulah13

      Sorry. Religion-based discrimination is not a protected right. And being called out for acts of religion-based discrimination is not "persecution". I don't know where you live, but the United States is a secular nation, and while your right to practice your faith is protected, that right ends where the rights of others begin.

      May 3, 2013 at 9:51 am |
    • Jesse

      I think it's funny and sad that religious folk believe that both sides of the gay rights argument are equally legitimate and anybody who calls them bigots is "intolerant" of their beliefs. That's logically very similar to claiming that the abolitionists were intolerant of the plantation owners' views that blacks were basically a "lesser race" and deserved nothing better than slavery. Claiming that you believe that gay people are "morally wrong" for something they could not choose is the equivalent of calling them "lesser" human beings. That makes you a bigot and the rest of us don't have to be tolerant of your bigotry. Trying to deny anybody the same rights that you have when they have made no wrong choices (like commiting a crime) makes you a bad person. It's not too late to convert to a view that isaccepting of all humans until you can judge them based on their voluntary choices.

      May 3, 2013 at 9:58 am |
  15. I Am God

    Now that Rhode Island has legalized it Wisconsin should do it now as well. It is time for these people to realize that this country is back to "WE the people" not "WE the Christian people."

    May 3, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • Eddie

      Or is it pretty much "we the GAYSTAPO, and our propagandists"

      May 3, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • I Am God

      No Eddie it is WE the people now. If Christians don't like it they can shove off then.

      May 3, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • Eddie

      Ooooh. I'm terrified. Take your won advice and mix in a pamprin. Youre kinda cranky

      May 3, 2013 at 9:05 am |
    • I Am God

      Of course your terrified Eddie. That is the only reason why you are on here now spreading your bigotry. You fear for the future and you fear you will die out. People are going to be cheering when you bigots disappear.

      May 3, 2013 at 9:06 am |
    • Eddie

      Right-o . Your sick little uges are my problem now, not yours? Sorry, I don't know what family member hurt you , but your dysfunction isn't my hassle. Shaking in my shoes now...

      May 3, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • tallulah13

      Eddie is funny. He thinks people are impressed by his feeble posturing. Sorry dude: we're just laughing.

      May 3, 2013 at 9:53 am |
    • Tyrell

      Sorry "IAMGod" we outnumber you and helped build this civilization. I think we'll stick around thanks. You and your hating kind will pass away long before us. Good luck with that atheist putsch thing.

      May 3, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • Eddie



      Aww . I'm hurt. Does this mean I'm not cool enough to send to re-eduction camp?

      May 3, 2013 at 9:56 am |
    • MSNE

      That this country is back to We the People? That's ironic considering this country was founded on Christian Principles.

      May 3, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • tallulah13

      Tyrell, the government of this nation was created to be secular for the protection of all. You are free to worship as you will, as is every other believer and non-believer is free to worship or not worship as they chose.

      However, your religion does not protect you from the comments of those who do not approve of the sort of bigotry displayed by this church. They had the right to cancel the appearance. We have the right to condemn that choice.

      As for atheism dying out: Religions come and go. That is a human trend. But the sheer volume of religions and gods worshiped has significantly decreased as humanity has gained knowledge about the workings of our world. I suspect that believers will be the majority only as long as large portions of the human population are deprived of education, or actively chose not to seek it.

      May 3, 2013 at 10:05 am |
    • tallulah13

      You can go to whatever camp you like, Eddie. I just think you're funny.

      May 3, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • tallulah13

      MSNE: Actually the government of this nation was created more on the principals of The Enlightenment (science and reason) than on any religion, and church was very deliberately separated from state because our Founding Fathers learned from example of Europe that the mixture of religion and government is the enemy of freedom. Early American history is fascinating. You should check it out.

      May 3, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • Eddie

      Thanks.. Buddy glad I can make you laugh.

      May 3, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  16. Jeebusss

    More people trying to force their religion down other people's throats. The church wasn't actually interested in stopping bullying. If they were, they wouldn't have said anything because Butler's stance on gay athletes are completely unrelated to this talk. In REALITY the church was interested in forcing their viewpoint down Butler's throat, and if that means a bullying seminar gets cancelled, oh well for the bullied kids........

    Religion is the greatest poison that has ever existed in humanity.

    May 3, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • marine1

      Bitter Mother F-er... Why the f–k are you even on here? To talk Sh-t about other peoples belief? Real F–king mature.

      May 3, 2013 at 9:48 am |
    • tallulah13

      It's funny that your comment on the maturity of someone else sounds like it came from a 12-year-old.

      May 3, 2013 at 9:55 am |
  17. Trance


    May 3, 2013 at 8:39 am |
  18. Randy McLeod

    What a # 1 approach to an old cliche.

    May 3, 2013 at 8:31 am |
  19. PaulK

    Does anybody think that it is strange that a church thanked him for not revealing their name in this matter? Kinda like "I hate gays, but don't want anybody to know that I do." So much for religion!

    May 3, 2013 at 8:28 am |
    • Sarah

      We will likely see more of this, the Churches and Christians in general fighting for their right to hate anonymously.

      May 3, 2013 at 8:33 am |
  20. Brenda

    LeRoy Butler is a class act.

    May 3, 2013 at 8:26 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.