Rocky Butler was gonna be a star. We were all sure of it after the 2002 Labour Day Classic when Butler made his CFL debut as the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ starting quarterback.
It may have been the bravest performance we ever witnessed at Taylor Field. Butler ran for three touchdowns in a 33-19 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He got absolutely pummeled, which was obvious as he winced through our post-game interviews. Admittedly, Butler had trouble settling into the pocket and finding receivers, so he had to run.
Butler got the starting opportunity only because Nealon Greene and Kevin Glenn were injured. Riders head coach Danny Barrett remained loyal to his veterans afterwards and Butler eventually fell out of favour, until he joined the Toronto Argonauts in 2007.
One of his Argos games was against the Roughriders, so our pregame stories happily recalled his Labour Day victory. Butler was such a nice guy that many of us were cheering for him, but he never did replicate that performance and his career ended shortly, leaving only memorable stories about his courageous showing.