You’d think Cy Butler, at age 40, and a first-time father of an 11-week-old daughter, might be easing into settle-down mode just a bit. After all, his starry football days, from Weston High School to the University of Rhode Island to the Arena Football League, are over.
He’s changing diapers instead of teams these days.
Still, the game has kept a grip on him. In his fourth season as an assistant football coach at Worcester State University, he is now the offensive coordinator on Brien Cullen’s staff. Previously, he worked as assistant at the Moses Brown School, Providence Country Day School, Mount Ida College, and South Kingstown (R.I.) High School, “where we won a state title,” he said proudly.
Winning a high school championship strikes a familiar note with Butler. A greased-lightnin’ 5-foot-6 quarterback, 160 pounds “soaking wet,” he directed Weston High to the Division 6 Super Bowl title in 1991 as a junior. “It was Dec. 8, my birthday. A special day,” said Butler.
Butler passed for 7,000 yards, threw and ran for 11 total touchdowns, had 38 interceptions (at free safety), and was a three-time MVP of Weston’s annual Thanksgiving Day game against Wayland.
“I had some God-given ability,” he said.
After graduation, “Army wanted me as a quarterback,” recalled Butler. He visited the sprawling, awe-inspiring campus at West Point. It overpowered him. “I liked it, but I was immature. I didn’t want to be that far away. Maybe I was too much in awe. It was a different universe.”
Still, he occasionally wonders that if he had it to do over, he might have taken the challenge. “I could have played football and served my country.”
The road instead led to the University of Rhode Island.
“I made a good choice,” he said. “We had success.” Butler was a big part of that success after shifting to a new position, slot receiver, his sophomore season. He was a Division 1-AA All-American punt returner, and remains the Rams’ all-time leader in all-purpose yardage (5,380) and third in receptions (189).
But his senior season ended prematurely, after just four games, for his involvement in an attack on a campus fraternity house by 31 members of the football team on Oct. 7, 1996. The following spring, Butler was sentenced to 200 hours of community service.
Undrafted out of URI, he was invited to the New York Giants mini-camp. But he was not prepared for the grueling competition after his time away from the game.
“I had to deal with it, and move forward.”
His playing days were not over.
From 2002-08, Butler suited up for three Arena League teams: the New Haven Ninjas, Mohegan Wolves, and Albany Conquest. He also spent a season with the San Antonio Matadors of the professional Spring Football League before it closed down..
Finally, a coaching career beckoned. He loved coaching at the high school level. “You get more involved,” he said. “It’s a chance to set young people on the right course in life.”
Butler, who works full time as a personal trainer in Providence, said the Worcester State job was a good fit. Cullen had recalled attending a Weston-Ashland game when Butler was the star. “I went to that game because my brother, Mike, was an assistant coach at Ashland,” he said. “I saw Cy play and thought, ‘Wow.’ ”
In his 33d season as head coach at Worcester State, the Milford native didn’t land Butler as a player. Getting him as a coach has worked out just fine. After playing quarterback and receiver, “Cy’s really got the concept of the passing game,” said Cullen.
Butler makes the daily commute from his Providence home to Worcester. Before hitting the road, he might have changed a diaper or two. “I’m into that . . . totally,” he said.
Lenny Megliola can be reached at email@example.com.