Controversies and theories go hand-in-hand, and the Malcolm Butler saga is no different.
The New England Patriots cornerback was benched during the team’s Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, leading to widespread speculation about what caused Bill Belichick to sit his star corner on the pine in the biggest game of the year, whether it be for football reasons (Belichick’s answer) or a possible team rules violation (which Butler refuted).
So what happened?
Well, resident Patriots superfan and CEO of The Ringer Bill Simmons dropped an interesting theory on “The Bill Simmons Podcast” on Monday, noting that he believes the benching is “being overrated.”
“Here’s what I think happened, and he wasn’t that good this year, I’d say C-plus, B-minus,” Simmons said. “I think they decided they were going to start the game with (Eric Rowe) on (Alshon Jeffery), and that they were going to bench Butler, but not for the whole game. I think they told him this, and I think he reacted like a big baby and Belichick’s like (expletive) this guy. ‘How about this? You won’t play.’
“That’s the only thing that makes sense because there were two d-backs out there who are not even close to him as players. Even if he’s a B-minus, C-plus, the guys they had out there are D-plus, D-minus. And it’s not like Butler’s never played the nickel before. It’s not like ‘Woah, he’s doesn’t know how to play,’ that’s bull*&%*. ”
Simmons also noted that Butler’s season got off to a rocky start with trade rumors and New England’s failure to give him a big contract, and that the choice to bench him to start the game could have been the final straw.
“You know, they really been tough on him this year,” Simmons said. “He had this big contact he thought he was getting, they didn’t get it to him. They thought they were going to trade him they didn’t. He kind of stuck around, he was playing for a new deal. He didn’t have a great season, and then they benched him for the Super Bowl and I think he must have reacted badly.”
We’ll probably never find out the real reason for Butler’s benching, but as far as theories go, Simmons’ is pretty solid.