The 45-year-old, who was born and raised in Philadelphia and now lives in Gilbert, Arizona, was diagnosed with a viral infection in his heart in 2016 that made him take a closer look at his bucket list. He decided that 2018 was going to be the year he attended every single regular season Philadelphia Eagles game.
“I’m fully recovered, but at the time, and even leading up to that, I was like, man, there’s a lot of stuff I want to do,” Butler told HuffPost. “I turned 45 this year, and the Eagles turned 85 this year, so it just seemed like it made sense to to do it in 2018.”
Butler, who trains automotive salespeople, was able to start saving up hotel points and airline points through all of the travel he does for his job. When the 2018 schedule came out, he would spend hours looking for ways to get tickets, even asking friends with season tickets to spare a few. Eventually, he ended up buying them through Vivid Seats. He booked his flights, hotels and got ready to travel.
Through what Butler called a “labor of love” and “a logistical nightmare,” he made it to all 16 regular season games all over the country, and even one across the pond. The season included a trip to London for the Eagles’ game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium.
Even though the endeavor required him traveling part of the week for his job and almost every weekend for a game, he deemed the accomplishment well worth it.
Butler’s journey had him running into everyone from Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, to head coach Doug Pederson, all the way to the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell at a cigar bar in London.
He said one of his favorite memories was getting to bring his daughter, Naomi, and wife, Danielle, to the Eagles game against the Minnesota Vikings.
“None of what I did this season would have been possible without their support,” he told HuffPost. “We put more value, a lot of times, on material things and not on experience. And as I get older, I have shifted my thinking to try to focus on what things can I do that are going to be things that I can look back at and just kind of smile?”
His advice for those thinking about knocking off a big life goal? “Jot it down and live out the bucket list, because we only pass this way one time. You might as well enjoy it.”
He plans to attend the Eagles’ wild-card playoff game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, and said that he’s taking it one game at a time now. The playoffs, he said, are just “the icing on the cake.”
“Whatever the last game of the season is, we’ve already made it this far, we defied the odds,” Butler said.