Punter Drew Butler’s ties to Larry Munson run deeper than those of most Georgia players.
Not only was Butler’s father Kevin a participant in one of the beloved Munson’s most famous calls as Georgia’s radio play-by-play announcer, Drew is one of the second-generation Bulldogs to have been a member of the team during Munson’s 42 years behind the mike.
Munson died Sunday night at age 89 of complications from pneumonia.
“I definitely felt closer to him than probably some of the guys on the team did,” said Butler, who this year is the recipient of Georgia’s Larry Munson Football Scholarship.
Kevin Butler was responsible for one of the most renowned Munson calls when he kicked a 60-yard field goal -- a distance Munson initially descried as “a hundred-thousand miles” -- to beat No. 2 Clemson 26-23 in 1984.
As Butler’s kick cleared the crossbar, Munson shouted, "Oh my God! Oh my God! The stadium is worse than bonkers! Eleven seconds! I can’t believe what he did! This is ungodly!"
Needless to say, Drew Butler has heard that call many times in his life. He was never the subject of a Munson call himself -- Butler punted in three games as a freshman in 2008, but all were away games and Munson called only two home games that season before retiring.
A second favorite was when Georgia's Michael Johnson scored the game-winning touchdown in the final minutes against Auburn in 2002, clinching the SEC East title.
“I was in our living room watching that Auburn game. We actually turned down the TVs and turned up the radio in the house and he actually called the touchdown before it aired on CBS,” Drew Butler said. “We were all going pretty wild. That was a pretty special moment for my family.”
Munson played a leading role in many Georgia families’ fall Saturdays during his lengthy career calling Bulldogs games. Of the active players, Butler probably has the greatest understanding of the iconic announcer’s place in program history.
“Larry was a big part of my dad’s career here and unfortunately he wasn’t able to be a big part of my career, but he’s held dear to the Bulldog Nation and to my family as well, so we’re just keeping his family in our prayers and it’s sad to see a Damn Good Dog go,” Drew Butler said.
Coach Mark Richt said UGA staffers are mulling ideas on how best to honor Munson at Saturday’s game against Georgia Tech. He said the Bulldogs might wear a helmet sticker honoring Munson “if it can fit on a decal and really look like what it’s supposed to be. We’re trying to work out something so it’s a little bit of a surprise.”
A few other Richt comments concerning Munson following Monday night’s practice:
“It was sad to see Larry go, but what a great ... really an icon of Georgia football. He was a lot of fun to listen to. I didn’t really get to hear him live very often, although I will say this: One of my first memories of hearing Larry Munson was riding in a car with Wayne McDuffie, who did coach here at one time. He was the offensive coordinator at Florida State. We would stay in Thomasville, Ga. -- the team would -- the night before the game. We would travel there together and we would travel back. If we had a night game, we would be traveling back and if Georgia was playing, he was just working that dial trying to find Munson. He always talked about wanting to hear Larry Munson make the call, so I actually got to hear him do a few games before I even went to Georgia.”
On his favorite Munson call:
“I would have to say the hobnail boot was a good one [from Georgia’s 2001 win at Tennessee]. It’s special to me. I knew so much about Larry Munson, and for the first year that I’m at Georgia -- I didn’t know it was going to be that famous when it happened, but the hobnail boot got a lot of mileage.”
On whether today’s players know much about Munson:
“I know they’d be familiar with the voice. Sometimes I don’t know if they would know the name. Shoot, if I tell them stories about Jim Kelly and Dan Marino and all those guys, they’re looking at me like, ‘Who are you talking about?’ But I think our guys have a pretty good idea who Larry Munson was. The guys who have been around for a while know for sure. But there’s probably a few freshmen who were probably wondering who Larry was.”