Former NFL greats Sauer, Butler die

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — George Sauer had a huge day in the biggest game in Jets history, then surprisingly walked away from football a few years later.

Mr. Sauer, a receiver on the Jets' only Super Bowl title team, has died. He was 69. The team confirmed Saturday that he died Tuesday after having Alzheimer's disease for years.

He played a key role in the Jets' 16-7 win over the Baltimore Colts in the 1969 Super Bowl, catching eight passes from Joe Namath in one of the greatest upsets in pro football history.

Mr. Sauer played for the Jets in the AFL, then the NFL from 1965-70. He left the game after the 1970 season still in his prime because, he said at the time, he was unhappy with the way the game treated players. He briefly returned in 1974 with the New York Stars and Charlotte Hornets of the World Football League before retiring for good. He later was an assistant for the Carolina Chargers of the American Football Association in 1979.

Sometimes overshadowed by fellow receiver Don Maynard, a Hall of Famer, Mr. Sauer had an extremely productive career. He was chosen to four all-star teams and was a two-time All-Pro.

"RIP George Sauer," former Jets receiver Wayne Chrebet wrote on Twitter. "One of the heroes on the Jets Super Bowl III championship team."

Steelers' pioneer CB

PITTSBURGH — Jack Butler, who helped revolutionize the way cornerbacks played during his Hall of Fame career with the Steelers, died Saturday at 85.

Mr. Butler's son John said his father's heart stopped suddenly Saturday morning. Mr. Butler had spent the past few months in the hospital dealing with a staph infection that had plagued him since his career ended in 1959.

The Pittsburgh native played receiver at St. Bonaventure and was planning on returning to school for his master's degree when he received a call from Steelers business manager Fran Fogarty in summer 1951. "I didn't know anything about professional football," Mr. Butler said.

It didn't matter. Over the next nine years, he became one of the NFL's top defensive backs, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound wrecking ball known for physical play and an uncanny knack for getting to the ball. He had 52 interceptions in his career, made the Pro Bowl four times and was first-team All-NFL three times.

Former NFL greats Sauer, Butler die 05/11/13 [Last modified: Saturday, May 11, 2013 11:24pm]

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