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Malcolm Butler will forever be Bill Belichick’s greatest mystery

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Belichick will never answer the one question we want an answer to.

Super Bowl LII - Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots
Just answer the question, Bill. That’s all we want.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Most Patriots fans have never had much to complain about with Bill Belichick. He’s the greatest football coach we’ve ever seen. He’s delivered New England five Super Bowl titles and still counting, when before he arrived in Foxboro, it would’ve been a miracle to even get one.

But after 18 seasons, he finally did something that none of us really approved of. He benched Malcolm Butler, a former Super Bowl hero and arguably the Pats’ most reliable cornerback, in Super Bowl LII. Yes, we all remember that dreadful night.

Eagles 41, Patriots 33. It still stings a little bit.

I’m not saying playing Butler in the game would mean the Patriots would’ve won, but still. It was somewhat of an inexplicable decision. And the worst part? It still hasn’t been explained. And it’s never going to be explained. Getting Belichick to talk about anything that took place before the current minute would take some kind Hogwarts-like magic.

Everybody’s “favorite” Boston Globe columnist, Dan Shaughnessy, did his best to pry answers out of Belichick this past week at training camp. It didn’t work very well.

Here’s the transcribed conversation between Dan and Bill, according to Dan’s column in the Globe:

Dan: Bill, I know you’re all about this year and we all understand that. Good luck this year.

Bill: That’s right.

Dan: I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask about last year.

Bill: Last year is last year. I’m not focused on last year.

Dan: What about the fact that everywhere we go, folks want to ask about Malcolm Butler? Sports coaches, players, universally. You’re a sports fan.

Bill: Yeah, we talked about that. That’s multiple months ago.

(I don’t remember that conversation, but I digress…)

Dan: Is there going to be any more explanation about why he didn’t play?

Bill: I’m focused on training camp.

Dan: Would you do it any differently?

Bill: Training camp? We’re getting started. We’re working on that right now. We’ll do the best we can.

Dan: Does it matter to you? Do you care that fans want to know more about this?

Bill: I’m focused on doing the best that I can for the 2018 New England Patriots. That’s my job. That’s what I’m going to do. That’s what I’ve always done in the past. Every day that I’ve coached here I’ve done the best that I could for this football team and I’ll continue to do that. And right now, my focus is on the 2018 season. Not 2017, not 2014, not 2007, not 2004, not 2001, not 2000. I’m not focused on any of those seasons. They’re done.

Dan: And for this season – for this season’s team – is it important for you to address the Malcolm Butler thing with your team?

Bill: It’s important for me to have a good season in 2018. I’m going to do everything I can to do that. I’m going to do the best that I can for our football team. That’s my job and that’s my responsibility and that’s what I’m going to try to do. Hopefully you can respect that, but maybe not.

Dan: Thank you.

And that’s all Dan could get out of him.

Belichick’s disdain for the media is understandable, but he’s bringing this all on himself. The Super Bowl was almost six months ago, and he hasn’t talked to anybody about what was arguably the biggest blunder of his coaching career with the Patriots. We all understand that he’s focused on the 2018 season, and that’s all fine and well. He should be.

But he consistently refuses to answer any questions about anything that happened prior to the present day. He can still be focused on 2018, and answer a simple question asked by a sports reporter at the same time.

He obviously had a reason for not playing Butler in the Super Bowl, and Patriots fans deserve to know what that reason was. And even though he’s not going to answer the questions, Belichick should know by now that the Butler questions aren’t going to go away just because he refuses to answer them.

As a diehard Pats fan, I would go to war for Bill Belichick. But sometimes, he just has to be better than this.