When cornerback Malcolm Butler played only one special teams snap during the New England Patriots' loss in Super Bowl LII, the writing was on the wall that he would leave the team via free agency. Butler did just that and signed a five-year, $61 million contract with the Tennessee Titans – and there was speculation that he would open up about his Super Bowl experience once away from New England.
Butler did just that when he recently spoke with the Boston Herald's Jeff Howe:
I never got a reason. I feel like this was the reason: I got kind of sick. I went to the hospital. They probably thought I was kind of late on the game plan; I wasn’t as locked in as I should be and could have been a matchup deal. It could have been anything. But Bill Belichick has been doing this for a very long time.
He took a veteran out of Super Bowl XLIX [against the Seahawks] and put in a first-year rookie, and that turned out right, so you could never question his decision. It didn’t work out right [against the Eagles]. It didn’t work out the best for me or him or the New England Patriots. But I can say he won more than he lost, so it is what it is. I always have love for New England, Bill Belichick, Mr. Kraft, all those guys. Life just goes on.
The statement does not reveal anything that had not been known yet. The decision to not play Butler on defense was apparently the result of multiple factors from performance to matchups to health. As the cornerback noted, it was a gamble unlike others Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was not afraid to make in the past. And while it did not pay off, Butler – at least publicly – does not question it.