Here's why the starting cornerback was benched for the Super Bowl.
Multiple things reportedly played a factor in the Super Bowl benching of Malcolm Butler. New England's starting cornerback sat on the sideline all game while Philadelphia's pass offense cut through the Patriots' secondary.
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reported on Monday night that three separate things played into Bill Belichick's decision to not play Butler:
- He was sick before the Super Bowl
- He had a rough week of practice
- He violated a minor team rule
Belichick said immediately after the 41-33 loss to Philadelphia that it was a "football decision" and not disciplinary. He expanded on his reasoning Monday, but not much.
"I appreciate the question, but it would be a much longer discussion," Belichick said when asked to explain Butler's benching to fans. "There are a lot of things that go into that. In the end, the final decision is what I said it was."
Butler, who played more than 90 percent of defensive snaps for the Patriots in 2017, was emotional after the game. He told reporters that he felt the Patriots gave up on him.
"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," he told ESPN's Mike Reiss.
Boston radio host Kirk Minihane, meanwhile, reports that Belichick made the decision a couple of hours before kickoff. It had nothing to do with discipline, he says.
Will we ever know what really happened here, 100 percent? Probably not.