FOXBORO, Mass. — Next Thursday will mark the three-year anniversary of Super Bowl XLIX — aka the game that made Malcolm Butler a household name.
Every football fan knows the story by now: Butler, an undrafted rookie cornerback at the time, was a mid-game replacement who made one of the greatest plays in NFL history, intercepting a Russell Wilson pass at the goal line to give the New England Patriots their first Super Bowl title in a decade.
That was just the start of what’s been a highly successful career for Butler, who will play in his third Super Bowl in four seasons next Sunday in Minneapolis.
“It went by pretty fast, man,” he said Thursday, reflecting back on his first unforgettable Super Bowl debut. “It went by real fast, man. It feels like yesterday. But life goes that fast.”
Butler has played in every game for the Patriots over the past three seasons and started all but one. But before that fateful moment against the Seattle Seahawks, he was a relative unknown who’d spent most of his rookie season buried behind Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Kyle Arrington and Logan Ryan on the depth chart. He played just 16.8 percent of the Patriots’ defensive snaps in 2015 and recalled wondering if he’d even see the field in Super Bowl XLIX.
“Just be ready,” Butler said, remembering his pregame mindset. “Just be ready. I might not play, but I’m going to prepare like I’m going to play. And I got the results.”
Butler, who’s set to become an unrestricted free agent after Super Bowl LII, knows not to take his team’s perennial success for granted. He acknowledged after New England rallied to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game that he’s “spoiled.”
He also knows that this Super Bowl appearance won’t mean anything if him and his teammates don’t take care of business against the Philadelphia Eagles.
“It means a lot, but we’ve just got two (championships),” Butler said. “The third one is incomplete right now, so we’ve got to finish it off.”
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images
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