Benching Malcolm Butler in Super Bowl LII was a strange part of the New England Patriots’ defeat. Apparently, it was a multitude of things that caused it.
In Super Bowl XLIX, New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler was the hero, as he picked off Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson at the goal line to win. Just three years later, Butler was mysterious benched by head coach Bill Belichick in Super Bowl LII versus the Philadelphia Eagles. New England lost by eight points to an excellent Eagles team.
We could all see during the playing of the national anthem that Butler was emotional about his benching. It was strange because the Patriots were not a good defensive team to begin with. Outside of safety Patrick Chung, Butler might have been the best Patriots defensive player in this game. So why did Belichick play so willingly with one hand tied behind his back on defense?
According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, “the benching of Patriots CB Malcolm Butler happened because of a perfect storm of issues: Sickness, a rough week or practice, and a minor rule violation believed to be related to curfew.” So it wasn’t just one thing that triggered Belichick to make Butler ride pine for the Super Bowl.
It’s no secret that Butler had begun to fall out of favor in New England. He was nearly traded this past offseason to the New Orleans Saints. However, he remained with the Patriots to play out the final year of his contract with New England before hitting free agency. With this controversy, there is no way he goes back to the Patriots.
Overall, this is a strange situation that every other coach not named Belichick would get reamed for. It would be like if Pete Carroll benched Richard Sherman for the Super Bowl or Dan Quinn made Desmond Trufant a healthy scratch in a title bout. That just doesn’t happen.
Look for more information to come out about this shortly. All we know is that Butler can’t possibly go back to the Patriots. Expect him to be livid and fired up to play for a new team in 2018. Maybe his new employer gets an invigorated Butler because of this benching?