Malcolm Butler releases statement, and Patriots players back him

New England Patriots

New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler released his side of the story, denying any reports that his Super Bowl benching was a disciplinary issue.

Super Bowl LII was memorable for a number of reasons. Not only did the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles combine for the most yards in Super Bowl history, the Eagles knocked off the dynastic Patriots in stunning fashion with their backup quarterback Nick Foles winning Super Bowl MVP.

Patriots fans have had a hard time explaining what went wrong, but the most common reason comes back to one player: Malcolm Butler. It’s not what he did, but rather what he didn’t do, as he was active for the game but didn’t play a single defensive snap. During the game, he was seen crying on the bench, and after the loss, he said the team “gave up on me.”

The reason for his benching remains a mystery. Ian Rapoport seemed to provide the answer when he stated it was a “perfect storm of sickness, a rough week of practice and a curfew violation.” But when Butler told his side of the story, he denied everything while also apologizing for his comments:

It’s hard to say for sure which account is right, but the players seem to be on Butler’s side:

Obviously, this just makes a very complicated situation even more so. While it’s foolish to question any decision Bill Belichick makes, it’s hard to see why he wouldn’t put Butler in after seeing the likes of Eric Rowe, Jonathan Bademosi and Jordan Richards get burned deep. If it turns out that Butler did violate team rules, then he deserved to be benched. But Belichick has refused to provide any clarity on the situation.

With the Super Bowl behind them, the Patriots should shift their focus to free agency. Letting Butler walk seems like a foregone conclusion at this point, but it remains to be seen how the team will effectively replace him.

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