We still have no idea why he did didn’t play in Super Bowl LII, but New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler has released a statement on Twitter and Instagram, writing that he never took part in any of the “ridiculous” activities suggested, leading to his being benched.
“I want to thank Mr. [Robert] Kraft, the Kraft family, and my coaches for giving me an opportunity to play for one of the most successful organizations in sports,” Butler began. “I also thank my teammates, as we have won a lot of games together, and all I know is winning! I have always respected everyone at the New England Patriots organization, from Custodians, staff and coach [Bill] Belichick.
“In each of my Four years we have achieved Conference Championships or Super Bowl victories since I arrived in New England. All of this would not be possible without thanking some of the best fans in the world who have supported me from day one and, always let me know how much they appreciated me here in New England.
“During my four year career with (the) Patriots I have always given it everything I have to play at a high level, and would never do anything to hurt my team’s chances of winning a game, including this year’s Super Bowl where I visited with my family every night. During Super Bowl week I never attended any concert, missed curfew, or participated in any of the ridiculous activities being reported. They are not only false, but hurtful, to me and my family.
“Although I wish I could have contributed more to help my team win, I have to get ready for the next opportunity. Moving forward I will do what I have always done to work hard, and prepare for next season to be the best I can be on and off the field.
“Finally, I want to apologize to any offended by language reported immediately after the game during a very emotional time. It was out of character for me and my character, and heart with God’s help is what got me to where I am today. I can’t wait for the 2018 season to get here. I will be ready!”
In the aftermath of the game, ESPN reporter Mike Reiss spoke with Butler, who said, “They gave up on me. [Expletive]. It is what it is.”
There have been various rumors and reports over the past couple of days about what led to Butler’s being in uniform but playing just one special-teams snap.
A league source who is close to Butler said on Sunday night that Butler’s benching had nothing to do with discipline or the cornerback’s illness, which led to him visiting a Massachusetts hospital before the Patriots left for Minneapolis. Butler was not well enough to travel with the team on Jan. 29, and was flown by himself a day later.
Had Butler run afoul of team rules, Belichick could have sat Butler for a series – as he did with Wes Welker in the 2010 playoffs – or made Butler inactive had the infraction been more serious.
On Tuesday, the same league source once again affirmed that Butler had not done anything wrong in the days leading up to the game; the source believes the decision to bench the 27-year-old was personal because Butler is headed to free agency.
As his statement indicates, Butler does not plan on returning to the Patriots.
Quarterback Tom Brady commented under Butler’s post on Instagram, writing, “Love you Malcolm. You are an incredible player and teammate and friend. Always!!!!!!”
Butler played over 97 percent of the Patriots’ defensive snaps during the regular season, most on the team, and played every defensive snap of the team’s first two playoff games, against Tennessee and Jacksonville. After the Super Bowl, coach Bill Belichick said it was “strictly football” that led to Butler’s benching.
In 2014, the then-undrafted rookie was thrust into the spotlight when he made one of the biggest plays in Super Bowl history, making a goal-line interception of the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson to seal Super Bowl XLIX for New England, the franchise’s fourth title.
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