The greatest mystery surrounding the New England Patriots at present is head coach Bill Belichick’s decision to bench Malcolm Butler for Super Bowl LII.
Butler, who was one of the Patriots’ best defenders throughout the 2017 season, saw just one snap on special teams in the Patriots’ 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. But as is customary with New England, we’ve been given next to nothing as far as the reasoning behind Butler’s benching.
While Belichick insists it was a football decision, there might be more to it. In a report Monday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport uncovered a few new details surrounding the Butler saga that would make the cornerback’s benching easier to stomach.
As Rapoport notes, Butler battled an illness early last week, which prevented him from attending Super Bowl LII Opening Night last Monday. However, he was removed from the Patriots’ injury report in the days leading up to Super Sunday.
In terms of the rule violation, a few former Patriots also are of the belief that Butler might have violated the team’s curfew. Although Belichick runs a tight ship, benching one of your best defensive players in the biggest game of the year because he got home late seems a tad extreme.
Ultimately, we’ll probably never discover the true reason why Butler wasn’t a part of New England’s game plan against Philadelphia. And with unrestricted free agency looming, Butler likely has worn a Patriots uniform for the last time.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports
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