'Lambeau Leap' turns 15

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Fifteen years ago, safety Leroy Butler invented one of the most popular ways for a Green Bay Packer to celebrate: the Lambeau Leap.

It was Dec. 26, 1993, when defensive end Reggie White scooped up a fumble by Los Angeles Raiders running back Randy Jordan and lateraled the ball to Butler.

He then ran the final 25 yards to the end zone to give the Packers a three-touchdown lead early in the fourth quarter. Butler celebrated by leaping into the arms of fans.

Maybe it was the numbness caused by the third-coldest game day ever at Lambeau Field, with the temperature at zero and the wind chill at minus-22. Or clinching the victory for Green Bay's first playoff berth in 11 seasons.

"Scoring a touchdown is exciting, but the anticipation of all those fans ready to thank you for what you have done gives you chills like nothing else," Butler said in his autobiography, "The Leroy Butler Story: From Wheelchair to the Lambeau Leap."

He also described the moments leading up to the jump.

"Because I had pointed, the fans knew what they had to do," wrote Butler, the Packers' former All-Pro safety. "I go up into the green padding ... and when I'm halfway up, a guy starts pulling me up the rest of the way. Everyone right behind him grabs on. Everyone is screaming and yelling. Some are complimenting me with 'Awesome' or 'Good job.' It only lasts 2 or 3 seconds, and I'm back down.

"It's an incredible feeling as I run back to the bench. Dorsey Levens and a lot of other teammates keep telling me how cool that moment was. It took off from there. Ever since, every time we make a big play, there's the Lambeau Leap."

Pat and Ron Steers of Green Bay were in Lambeau for Butler's moment. After that, they eagerly awaited their first leaper, who turned out to be return man Desmond Howard.

"He wasn't going to jump," Ron recalled, "but then Eugene Robinson pushed him and he jumped up. But he didn't quite make it all the way, so I grabbed him by the shoulder pads to help him up. He came up a little faster than I thought he would and the crossbar on his helmet hit me right in the nose. It knocked me back, but I just said, 'I love you man.' It was great."

The leap was an experience that quarterback Aaron Rodgers yearned for while watching Brett Favre from the sidelines since being drafted in 2005.

His wait ended in this year's season opener against the Minnesota Vikings, when he scored on a one-yard quarterback sneak.

"I've been dreaming about that for four (seasons), to be honest," Rodgers said after the game. "I was hoping my first Leap would be a little more flashy -- a 10-yard, 15-yard run or something -- but at that point in the game I just said, 'What the heck, I'm going to go for it."'

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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