Just days ago, if I asked you who Malcolm Butler was, chances are, you wouldn’t have been able to give me an answer. Now permanently etched in Super Bowl lore, former Popeye’s employee Malcolm Butler’s story is one for the ages.
So, too, is that of Butler’s agent, Derek Simpson, a Huntsville, AL attorney in private practice. After viewing what he thought was an example of poor player representation while watching an episode of the HBO series “Hard Knocks,” Simpson decided that he could do better. However, after becoming certified by the NFLPA prior to the 2012 NFL Draft, what Simpson labels as a “hobby” started to become costly.
After spending thousands on the certification process, even Simpson admitted that the 2014 NFL season was his last opportunity to survive as an NFL agent. Before representing Hinds Community College and Division II West Alabama product Butler, Simpson acquired several clients who spent their time playing college football for the Alabama Crimson Tide, but unfortunately, none of them made an NFL roster. It looked as if this trend would continue after Simpson arranged for Butler to work out at Alabama’s Pro Day in 2014. After running a 4.6-second 40-yard dash in Tuscaloosa, Butler’s chances of being drafted looked bleak. However, after more work, Butler trimmed his time by two-tenths of a second as he posted a 4.4 during a tryout with the Patriots, who would end up signing Butler to a three-year, rookie minimum contract. As reported by AL.com’s Natalie Pierre, Simpson stated, “If Malcolm did not sign a contract I would have to go back and start the process all over again. So when he made the 53-man squad and signed that undrafted free agent contract, it was a relief for me as well.”
While watching the final two minutes of Super Bowl XLIX with his family, Simpson said of Butler, “He’s going to be a goat or a hero.” Indeed, a short time after, Simpson watched on as his client was responsible for tipping a Russell Wilson pass down the right sideline which sparked the chain reaction leading to a Jermaine Kearse circus catch and a hungry Seattle Seahawk offense deep in New England territory. “My heart just sunk. He was going to be the goat and I’d have to watch that play for the rest of my life,” he said.
Lucky for you, Derek Simpson, you can watch another play as many times as you would like (which I am sure will be quite often).
Two plays later, as the Seahawks crowded the goal line, Butler found his hands on another pass from Wilson; only this time, he made sure that no one wearing bright green and blue would get the same opportunity. Malcolm Butler made history Sunday night, as he became the first undrafted free agent rookie to record an interception in the Super Bowl.
Now, a couple of days after his client’s Super Bowl XLIX clinching interception at his team’s own goal line, Simpson’s phone hasn’t stopped ringing. “Right now, we are getting a lot of calls on him signing memorabilia, signing the picture of him intercepting the pass,” Simpson told WAPT 16 in Jackson, MS. He added, “We keep getting opportunities and hopefully the opportunities will keep coming his way.”
Currently receiving three percent of Butler’s base salary, Simpson took home $12,600 this season. What a “hobby.” Perhaps this is only the beginning for Butler and Simpson, who have seen themselves off to a pretty good start in 2015. With the increased attention, it will be an interesting story to follow this year. Malcolm Butler has taken the first step in making a name for himself in the NFL, and there is a possibility that Simpson adds more names to his list of clients playing in the NFL because of what he has achieved for Butler.
“It’s been such a great ride watching this player that I believed in and really thought could play in the NFL just blossom into this great player,” said Simpson. “It’s been so rewarding.”