Longtime Steelers defensive assistant and recently retired coach Keith Butler will celebrate his 66th birthday on Monday.
Butler retired at the end of the 2021 season after 23 years in the NFL, the last 19 of which were with the Steelers.
“I have spent every year since 1990 as a coach in the NFL and the NCAA, but the time is right for me to walk away after a successful career both playing and coaching the game I love,” Butler said in January.
Butler was hired by then-Pittsburgh head coach Bill Cowher as linebacker coach in 2003. He stayed on under defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau when Cowher retired and was replaced by Mike Tomlin in 2007. Butler was promoted to defensive coordinator after LeBeau left the team in 2015.
With the Steelers, Butler helped develop linebackers such as James Harrison, James Farrior, Joey Porter, Ryan Shazier, Lawrence Timmons, T.J. Watt and LaMarr Woodley, and he won two Super Bowls with the club as linebackers coach.
As a defensive coordinator, Butler’s unit led or tied for the NFL lead in sacks in his final five seasons, breaking the former NFL record of three straight such years.
An Alabama native, Butler played football at Memphis State and was a three-year starter at inside linebacker. He was name an Associated Press All-American as a senior in 1977 and played in the Senior Bowl.
The Seattle Seahawks selected Butler in the second round of the 1978 NFL Draft and he played his entire 10-year NFL career in Seattle. His 813 tackles ranked second on the team’s all-time list.
After his retirement from the NFL following then 1987 season, Butler quickly got into coaching, joining his alma mater Memphis in 1990. He spent eight more years with the Tigers as linebackers, defensive ends and special teams coach.
After one season as defensive coordinator at Arkansas State, Butler got his NFL break with the Cleveland Browns as linebacker coach under Chris Palmer. He was the only assistant coach retained when Palmer was replaced by Butch Davis in 2001, but two years later, joined the Steelers.