Given Patriot cornerback Malcolm Butler’s relatively recent Super Bowl heroics, one would think that having him play in Super Bowl LII would have been a no-brainer.
However, Butler’s head coach Bill Belichick, saw it differently.
When questioned about his decision to not play Butler, Belichick told ESPN, “I appreciate the question, but it would be a much longer discussion. There are a lot of things that go into that. In the end, the final decision is what I said it was.”
For his part, Butler said, “They gave up on me. F—. It is what it is,” Butler told ESPN. “I don’t know what it was. I guess I wasn’t playing good or they didn’t feel comfortable. I don’t know. But I could have changed that game.”
According to NFL.com, the Patriots benched Butler due to a “perfect storm” of events:
My understanding is the benching of #Patriots CB Malcolm Butler happened because of a perfect storm of issues: Sickness, a rough week of practice, and a minor rule violation believed to be related to curfew. A complicated matter. pic.twitter.com/TmUJgkHpsZ
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 5, 2018
That’s certainly a storm of events, but is that storm just a bit too “perfect” to be true? Butler’s former teammate Brandon Browner seems to think so. In an Instagram post, Browner said, “he not the first to get caught with weed. … Curfew also meant we are not allowed to have guest especially women.”
Browner continued to say that some players on the Patriots are given “second chances.” But those second chances are reserved for players who are “favorites” of Belichick:
He not the first to get caught with weed, 🏾♂️, curfew also meant we are not allowed to have guest especially women. I’ve ate chicken(Popeyes) in the room with a player and his wife after curfew. Bill seen that look in Toms eyes last night and thought we can win without our role players. Tom played the greatest game last name in super bowl history (statistically). But when you do wrong, nothing good can come out of that. Tom did everything he could do last night. Tom Brady was the goat last night. Malcolm’s presence was missed and felt last night. #facts 👑
Nor did Browner stop there, remarking in another post that the decision to bench Butler had divided the team before the game:
Browner followed that up with a shot at Belichick:
While it’s unknown whether Butler could have prevented the Patriots from losing, he did play on 98% of New England’s defensive snaps during the regular season. Given that, it’s clear that Butler was viewed as being one of the best defenders the Patriots had.