New England Patriots cornerback and onetime Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler didn't play Sunday night in the team’s loss against the Philadelphia Eagles due to team violations involving women and weed, a former teammate said.
Butler, who played in nearly 98 percent of the Patriots’ defensive snaps during the season, was shockingly benched during the Patriots' Super Bowl LII loss to the Eagles for what was initially reported as a “perfect storm of issues.”
According to NFL.com, Butler sat because of a sickness he was battling, a tough week of practice leading up to the Super Bowl and a minor team violation.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick defended his decision to reporters after the game, but on Monday acknowledged it was a more complicated issue.
“I appreciate the question, but it would be a much longer discussion,” Belichick said, according to ESPN. “There are a lot of things that go into that. In the end, the final decision is what I said it was.”
Butler was clearly upset after the Super Bowl on Sunday.
“They gave up on me. F---. It is what it is,” Butler said, according to ESPN. “I don't know what it was. I guess I wasn't playing good or they didn't feel comfortable. I don't know. But I could have changed that game.”
Butler's former teammate on the Patriots, Brandon Browner, took to Instagram to defend him, writing "he not the first to get caught with weed. ... Curfew also meant we are not allowed to have guest especially women."
He also said the Patriots are a team with players who are given "second chances" — but only for those who are "favorites" of Belichick.
"I ain't gonna say no names. Like every job, there's always favorites, you feel me, and lil' bro wasn't a favorite," he said.
He also slammed the decision on Sunday in another Instagram post, saying: "A locker room was divided pre game, most yds ever given in up in a SB game, and your best defender over the past 3 seasons. Doesn’t get a snap. You where hurt/burnt where he was needed tonight.. #foolishpride."
Browner, in another post, said, "Players play and Coaches are supposed to Coach, Bill was out coached for not letting his players play."
Butler became a staple in the Patriots’ secondary after he made the game-ending interception against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. Since then, he’s played in every regular season game for the Patriots, recording eight interceptions and 190 tackles.