Malcolm Butler became a big name after his unbelievable interception in the final moments of Super Bowl 49 giving the the Patriots the win over the Seahawks and earning their 4th Super Bowl.
Butler was praised by fans and Super Bowl 49 MVP Tom Brady even gifted Butler with a new car for his big play. The car typically goes to the MVP, but Brady knew how big Butler’s game saving interception was and offered it to the now 27-year-old Corner.
Three seasons later, Butler was sidelined by Head Coach Bill Belichick and only touched the field during Special Teams. The reasoning was not clear, but Butler’s benching was not for disciplinary reasons. Coach Belichick told the media that he wanted to give his team, “the best chance to win,” obviously feeling that Malcolm Butler who finished the regular season with 55 tackles and 2 interceptions was not up to the task of defending the Eagles receivers.
Eric Rowe stepped in as the starting corner and reportedly found out he was starting right before kickoff. During the Pink sung National Anthem, Butler was seen sobbing on the sideline perhaps because he had just found out he was benched.
Had Butler started, he most likely would’ve been responsible for Eagles number one receiver, Alshon Jeffery, who finished the game with 3 catches for 73 yards and a touchdown — somewhat modest numbers for a player of his caliber. Jeffery had an explosive first half but was quiet during the second half as Super Bowl 52 MVP Nick Foles began to spread the ball around throwing for 373 yards and 3 touchdowns and even getting a receiving touchdown on a 4th and goal trick play.
Former Patriot, Brandon Browner, who played opposite Butler in 2014 sounded off on social media following the loss. “A locker room was divided pre game, most yds ever given up in a SB game, and your best defender over the past 3 seasons doesn’t get a snap. You [were] hurt and burnt where he was needed tonight #foolishpride.”
The Patriots and Eagles did in fact combine for the most yards in a Super Bowl game last night. The game was heavily reliant on offense with the final score of 41-33, the most points the Patriots gave up this year since their opening day loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
With a Super Bowl loss weighing heavy on the Patriots it is not unreasonable to ask what if their one time Super Bowl savior had played.