Butler attended Berlin High School (Wisconsin), before moving on to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Butler was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 19th round (217th overall) of the 1959 NFL Draft. Although he was initially waived in training camp, he was re-signed after the team cut fellow rookie Tim Brown.
He would end up leading the team in kickoff (21 returns - 22.5 average) and punt returns (18 returns - 9.1 average). He returned a punt for a 61-yard touchdown in a 28-17 loss against the Chicago Bears.
He was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960 NFL Expansion Draft and was moved to defense, becoming the first starting free safety in franchise history. He led the team in punt returns (13 returns - 10.1 average) and also had 20 kickoff returns with a 19.1 yards average.