Toronto Argonauts: Victor Butler embracing new challenges in the CFL

May 18, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; A general view of the newly renovated BMO Field before a game between New York FC and Toronto FC at BMO Field. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
May 18, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; A general view of the newly renovated BMO Field before a game between New York FC and Toronto FC at BMO Field. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports /

After signing with the Toronto Argonauts back in February, Victor Butler continues to make the adjustment to the different game the CFL has to offer.

As the Toronto Argonauts concluded practice, the defence stayed behind running their own practice. Over to the right in the far end zone is Victor Butler working with teammate Troy Davis on different techniques providing some feedback after each drill.

In the offseason the Argos the defence went through many changes, including the hiring of Corey Chamblin as defensive coordinator. Now with their first preseason game coming up on June 8 against the Montreal Alouettes, the players are taking every chance to make sure that they are on the same page.

“With coach Chamblin, he brought this mentality that the defence is not just a unit but a family and when you got a family, you don’t want to disappoint them,” said Butler after practice.

“Guys are working extremely hard, becoming closer and are building that comradery, that trust which is going to carry you through the season. It leaves me with room to execute and perform at a high level because when each guy is worried about what the next man is doing, it is hard to win games.”

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The 29-year old defensive end is best known for his time with the Dallas Cowboys and was looking for a chance to play football again, that is where the Argos came calling. After a season where they gave up the most points in the league and had a tough time stopping the run, changes were coming.

Butler had his work cut out for him when he moved up to Canada. The differences between the CFL game versus the NFL became apparent when he watched film for the first time.

“It is a faster game as far as rushing the passer, you have to be more efficient, there is no time for wasted movement, hand placement or bad eyes. Everything has to happen right now as far as getting you dialed in and focused and I love it,” he said. “The 12th man threw me off a little,  I was like ‘it’s a penalty there are too many guys on the field’ but watching it every play I realized that it might not be too many guys so I got that sorted out.”

When the team assigned him the number 94, he was honoured given that players like Charles Haley and former Cowboys teammate DeMarcus Ware were big role models for him. That honour also comes with pressure, and he hopes to carry that mantle with pride.

Dallas Cowboys
Sep 22, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware (94)takes the field prior to the game against the St. Louis Rams at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

Playing in Dallas with Ware, Butler quickly learned what made him a polarizing figure. It was not just the dominance he showed on the field but the leadership he exemplified off the field.

“He was like a brother and a mentor to me, the guy is like an encyclopedia when it comes to rushing the passer and he is so humble and willing to help others perfect their craft,” said Butler about his former teammate.

“It is awing, you expect him to be a selfish guy and worry about himself but that’s not who he is. He is going to take you under his wing, stay after practice an hour even, to make sure you get something that is going to help you in the game. It shows the caliber of guy that he is and the character that he has as a football player and as a man.”

That is the type of approach and example that Butler wants to bring to the Argos and so far it has helped with the younger players on the roster. He sees guys with potential that want to get better and knows that it is up to him to make sure that he helps them take the next step.

“Guys like Ware, Anthony Spencer, Jason Hatcher in Dallas taught me that you are only as strong as your weakest link. Everyone says that it sounds so cliché but it’s the truth,” said Butler on the importance of helping his teammates. “You are a bad teammate if you don’t do everything you can to get every ounce of potential out of those guys whether they ask you stay after practice or ask you for something on your off day.”

Toronto Argonauts
Photo by David Morassutti /

Butler believes that the more he does to help his teammates improve, it will allow him to be a more effective player knowing that his teammates are in a position to be successful on the field. He hopes that he can adjust to the speed of the game and be the exemplary player that give his teammate confidence in his ability to make players.

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“These guys are trying to get better and putting forth the effort. It’s your job as a teammate to do the same, because you never know when that guy is going to come in the game and make a play to win a game. It takes an entire team to do that and it is every guy on the roster, not just the starters but every guy has to play a part and so when a guy like that comes to you, you have to help.”