Six years later, we're still left without a clear reason for the New England Patriots' bizarre benching of cornerback Malcolm Butler in Super Bowl LII.
Butler, a hero in Super Bowl XLIX, dressed but did not play any defensive snaps in the Patriots' 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. He was visibly emotional on the sideline as Eric Rowe replaced him in New England's secondary.
Former Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's decision to sit Butler remains shrouded in mystery. There have been countless theories for why Butler didn't play when his team needed him most, but we have yet to get a firm answer for the controversial move.
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Devin McCourty, a longtime Patriots captain, is just as clueless as the rest of us. The ex-Patriots defensive back told 98.5 The Sports Hub's Felger and Mazz that to this day, no one has informed him of why Butler was benched.
McCourty revealed a conversation he had with Butler -- shortly before Butler rejoined the team in 2022 -- in which he declined to explain to him why he didn't play against Philadelphia.
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"He called me when he came back (in 2022) and he was like, 'Hey, Belichick just called me, I might come back.'" McCourty recalled. "And I was like, 'Really?' I was like, 'You took a year off, how have you been? But you would really come back here?' And he's like, 'Yeah!' And I was like, 'Yeah, but what's going on? What happened?' And he didn't say anything."
McCourty also recalled a conversation with former Patriots defensive assistant Brian Flores, who claimed he also was left out of the loop on Butler's benching.
"The next year, me and Brian Flores, who was the defensive coordinator the next year (after) Matty P (Matt Patricia) leaves, and he goes to me, 'I don't want what happened to Seattle.' ... That team was phenomenal. We beat them in that Super Bowl and that team falls apart.
"He says that to me and I go, 'All right, cool, I agree with you. But what happened? Why didn't (Butler) play? And he goes, 'I don't know.' I've never heard anyone talk about why he didn't play. I don't know."
Butler unsurprisingly left the Patriots for the Tennessee Titans after that Super Bowl experience. He played three seasons in Nashville before retiring from the NFL. He briefly came out of retirement and joined the Patriots in 2022, but he was released before the regular season.
At this point, we'll just have to hope Butler addresses all of the unanswered questions in his forthcoming book and documentary.