August 01, 2014

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) The Green Bay Packers unveiled a bronze statue outside Lambeau Field that honors one of the team's traditions.

A small crowd gathered outside Lambeau Field to catch the first glimpse of the Lambeau Leap statue on Friday.

The sculpture pays tribute to the post-touchdown celebration of a player jumping into the stands behind the end zone.

Former Packers safety LeRoy Butler is credited with starting the ritual on Dec. 26, 1993, when he jumped into the crowd after scoring a late touchdown in Green Bay's 28-0 win over the Los Angeles Raiders.

''It was very spontaneous,'' recalled Butler, who attended the ceremony Friday. ''I can't even tell a fib and say I thought about it.''

The big play that prompted the first Lambeau Leap came after Hall of Fame defensive end Reggie White picked up a fumble and lateraled the ball to Butler, who ran the final 25 yards to Lambeau's south end zone.

Butler said the Lambeau Leap statue is a tribute to the passionate fan base for the Packers, the NFL's only public-owned franchise. The statue allows fans to experience the thrill of jumping up on a padded green wall into the outstretched arms of a few spectators cast in bronze.

''It's guys who are stuck with those end zone seats, touching and catching their favorite player,'' Butler said. ''It's just awesome.''

The sculpture sits not far from statues of Packers legends Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi on Harlan Plaza.

Aaron Rodgers, the Packers' star quarterback, said he has done the Lambeau Leap after scoring a touchdown a handful of times. His first jump came in his first game as a starter, following his 1-yard touchdown sneak in Green Bay's 2008 season-opening win over Minnesota.

''It's a special connection with the fans, and I know the fans that sit in the front row, they love it and they're excited about it,'' Rodgers said Friday. ''It's a special moment to be able to celebrate with your teammates and then get in the stands right away and celebrate with the fans.''


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