- New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler didn’t play a defensive snap in the Super Bowl.
- After the game, Butler said he wasn’t sure why he was benched, saying the team “gave up” on him.
- Butler said he could have changed the game if he had played, and he may have a point, as the Patriots gave up 41 points to the Philadelphia Eagles.
- Bill Belichick said the benching was not disciplinary.
In 2014, Malcolm Butler made the Super Bowl-winning interception on Russell Wilson to help the New England Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks.
On Sunday, in Super Bowl 52, Butler didn’t play a single defensive snap against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Butler’s benching was a confusing one. Butler was considered a young, rising cornerback in the NFL, and he played 97.8% of defensive snaps during the season, the most among Patriots defensive backs, according to Football Outsiders. But during the Super Bowl, he was suddenly missing from the biggest game of the year.
After the game, Butler was blunt, telling ESPN’s Mike Reiss that the Patriots “gave up” on him.
“They gave up on me,” Butler said. “F—. It is what it is. 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.”
During the game, cameras caught Butler appearing to cry while standing on the sideline. It’s unclear why he was emotional, but some have speculated that it could have been from finding out he wouldn’t play on defense.
It’s hard to argue with Butler. The Patriots gave up 41 points to the Eagles and struggled to stop the Nick Foles-led offense.
Asked about Butler’s benching after the game, Bill Belichick said it was not for disciplinary reasons.
“We put the best – the players out there and the game plan out there that we thought would be the best tonight like we always do,” Belichick said.
Butler’s future is up in the air in New England. Butler was floated in trade rumors in the offseason before the Patriots decided to keep him. Butler is a free agent this offseason, and this benching may push him out the door.
Butler’s comments can be heard below: