Column: What happened with Malcolm Butler?

FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2018, file photo, New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler takes questions from reporters in the team's locker room following NFL football practice in Foxborough, Mass. Butler said Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018, that he didn’t miss a curfew or do anything off the field that would have hurt New England’s chances of winning the Super Bowl before he was benched for the game. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

Ask almost any New England Patriots fan and they’ll tell you the same thing.

Malcolm Butler should’ve played in Super Bowl LII.

I know it’s not the Patriot’s style. Bill Belichick is an evil genius that works in mysterious ways, and if Butler didn’t play, Belichick must have believed he was doing what he thought was best for the football team.

But I’ll tell you what, when you see Eric Rowe and Johnson Bademosi getting absolutely torched in your biggest game of the year? You put your pride aside and you put a better player on the field.

Obviously, this didn’t happen, and it’s why the Eagles finally won a Super Bowl.

Following the game, the rumors began to swirl as people asked the simple question: why?

It’s a fair question. Malcolm Butler played 97.8 percent of New England’s defensive snaps this season. He got zero snaps on a night where Philly marched up and down the field seemingly at will.

Once again, why? It may never be clear. But details are beginning to creep out of a usually airtight Patriots organization. Patriots safety Devin McCourty spoke to NJ Advanced Media on Monday in what seems to be the first comments on the Butler situation since the Super Bowl.

“We all knew [Butler] wasn't starting all week. That wasn't a secret to the guys on the team,” McCourty explained.

One of the rumors flying around postgame was that the benching was a disciplinary action. There were rumors that Butler missed curfew, or got busted with drugs, etc. Yet, Belichick said after the game that it was a purely football decision.

“I respect Malcolm’s competitiveness, and I’m sure that he felt like he could’ve helped,” Belichick said. “In the end, we have to make the decisions that we feel are best for the football team.”

Butler himself even defended addressed these rumors in a public statement on Instagram.

But it seems that McCourty finally put these rumors to bed.

"As far as I know, all of that is the furthest thing from the truth," McCourty said. "I get why people are fishing. The guy played 98 percent of the plays. I just hate that for him character-wise going into free agency. It's just not true. As far as I know -- and I was there all week -- not one time did anything come up."

So if this is the case and it was purely a football decision, it’s absolutely insane to me that Butler didn’t play in the Super Bowl. People tend to avoid placing the blame on Belichick for really anything (even I was hesitant at first following the loss.) But I’m ready now.

Malcolm Butler should’ve played, no matter what he may or may not have done.

The coaching staff blew Super Bowl LII.


Connor Donahue is the digital editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at connor.f.donahue@uconn.edu. He tweets @conn_donahue.