Stephen A. Smith has taken a small step backward before adding fuel to the fire.
The ESPN “First Take” host once again addressed Bill Belichick’s benching of Malcolm Butler in Super Bowl LII on Monday, calling it an act of “cruelty” and speculating potential free agents might think twice about joining the New England Patriots while their legendary head coach remains in place.
“I think it (Butler’s benching) was an exercise in cruelty,” Smith said. “I think every free agent should think twice about going to play for the New England Patriots and going to play for this man.”
Butler was ever-present during the regular season and playoff games leading up to Super Bowl LII. But he played only one special-teams snap in the loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII. Belichick described Butler’s benching as a “football decision.”
Smith characterized Belichick’s treatment of Butler as “pure evil” and “despicable” two days after Super Bowl LII.
Labeling the benching “cruel” represents a comedown of sorts, but Patriots fans won’t appreciate Smith’s warning to potential free agents.