Hamilton Tiger-Cats Canadian defensive back Craig Butler has announced his retirement and will be joining the club as an assistant coach.
The 28-year-old Butler has been battling knee issues for more than two years and missed all of last season and most of 2017. He has played in just two games this season, primarily on special teams.
Selected by the Saskatchewan in the 2011 CFL Draft, Butler split his seven-year career between the Roughriders (2011-13) and Tiger-Cats (2014-17). Overall, he played in 87-career regular season games, posting 214 defensive tackles, 42 special teams tackles, eight quarterback sacks and 13 interceptions. Butler also played in six playoff games, including two Grey Cup games (2013, 2014), and was a Grey Cup Champion in 2013 with Saskatchewan.
Butler’s knee issues began in the second half of 2015, when he played the last 11 games on what doctors would later determine was a partially torn ACL. It’s an injury that should put him on the sidelines but instead Butler finished the year and was named a CFL all-star at safety.
“I had pain but I was able to play at a level that would still help the team so I kept going,” Butler said last winter. “It did not feel good.”
The 28-year-old has his knee second operation in May 2016, two weeks before the start of training camp, and missed the entire season. Still, he battled back to return to the field on Aug. 12 of this year.
“It’s my job, my career, my passion. It’s what I love to do,” Butler said before that game. “If I didn’t love to do it, I wouldn’t have worked so hard to get to where I am.”
Ticats vice president of football operations Kent Austin praised Butler for his contributions, which he expects will continue in his new role.
“Craig has been, and will continue to be, a valuable member of our organization,” Austin said. “We would like to thank him for everything he gave as a player both on and off the field these last four seasons, and congratulate him on a decorated career as a player in the CFL. We know his leadership and unwavering dedication to our team will continue in his new role and look forward to watching him develop as a coach in this league.”