Patriots players ‘not aware’ of why Malcolm Butler was benched
Bill Belichick said Malcolm Butler was benched for Super Bowl LII on Sunday as a coach’s decision, and it sounds like the players in the Patriots locker room got the same explanation for the shocking move as the rest of us.
On Monday, one Patriots defensive player told ESPN’s Josina Anderson that he was unaware of why Butler did not play a single snap on defense.
#Patriots defensive player to me this morning on the Malcolm Butler situation: "I'm not aware why it happened…It is what it is. The coach made a decision. You got to live with it."
— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) February 5, 2018
In a conference call with reporters, Belichick was asked several questions about his decision to bench Butler. He used the old cliche of doing what’s best for his football team, but he also hinted that it was an issue that Butler missed practice time while he was battling flu-like symptoms.
"I respect Malcolm's competiitveness. I'm sure he felt like he could have helped…in the end, we have to make the decisions that are best for the football…that's really all I can say about that." Belichick just now on conference call
— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) February 5, 2018
Asked why Johnson Bademosi was the choice when the Patriots went with three corners last night, Belichick says, "He practiced it the most."
— Phil Perry (@PhilAPerry) February 5, 2018
Butler did not fly with the team to Minneapolis, and he said the Patriots ended up sending a private plane to pick him up because he was dealing with an illness. It’s possible that Belichick felt he missed valuable practice time and would not be prepared to face the Eagles, but if that was the case you’d think Butler would have come in at some point when the Patriots were getting torched.
The comments Butler made about the situation following the game indicate he feels he was prepared to play. If he was benched for disciplinary reasons, he probably wouldn’t have ripped the team the way he did. We may never get a complete answer from Belichick about one of the biggest head-scratchers in Super Bowl history.