Bill Belichick didn't become the most powerful man on Earth by playing nicely with his players. He earned the title through ruthless execution and ridiculously high expectations for his players. It turns out that Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler hasn't been available at practice because his flight to New England was delayed- so Belichick benched him for the past three weeks.
This isn't the first time that Belichick's sent players home.
In 2014, Jonas Gray was coming off a record setting performance against the Indianapolis Colts, when he missed his alarm clock and was late to practice. Belichick benched him and LeGarrette Blount took over as the starting running back. Gray only saw the field for limited snaps over the rest of the season and was a healthy scratch for the Super Bowl.
This, of course, was a starkly different approach compared to just three weeks earlier, when Darrelle Revis missed a practice prior to the Bears game. Gray lost his starting job. Revis missed a day of practice and was back on the saddle for the rest of the season.
In 2013, linebacker Brandon Spikes was placed on the injured reserve and the scuttlebutt was that the injury wasn't bad enough to hold Spikes out from playing in a game- Spikes was late for meetings a handful of times and Belichick thought that it was worth punishing Spikes by ending his Patriots tenure on the inactive list.
In 2009, Belichick sent the quartet of Randy Moss, Adalius Thomas, Gary Guyton, and Derrick Burgess home after they were late to practice due to a snow storm. Thomas made the infamous "it's not the Jetsons" comment and almost got into a car accident due to the snow. Guyton was the only player who lasted for a full season after 2009.
There is a major difference in almost being in an accident, and actually getting in an accident. When Tom Brady got in his scary fender bender in 2010, he was (reasonably) late for practice. He was not sent home upon his eventual arrival.
Hopefully Butler won't experience any major setbacks from missing this time with the team. All accounts show that Butler is studying film at home and working out as hard as ever.
For all of the other players on the roster: don't be late, or else your tenure in New England might come to an end.