Someday, Bill Belichick may explain in greater detail his decision to bench Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl. But predictably, no one’s going to get the answers they seek from Belichick any time soon. Certainly not in the middle of the offseason as he gets ready for 2018.
Speaking to reporters at the NFL’s annual meeting in Orlando, Belichick was asked about Butler’s comments in his introductory press conference with the Tennessee Titans. Butler said that it “probably was not the case” that he was “locked in and focused 100 percent” during Super Bowl week. Asked if that played a role in his benching, Belichick was expectedly mum on the topic.
“I have a lot of respect for Malcolm,” said Belichick, via Mike Reiss of ESPN. “From the day he got here, in rookie minicamp four years ago, he’s always competed as hard as he could. He always is a great competitor on the field. I totally respect that.
“I’m not going to get into last year, I’m not going to get into next year or some other year. I talked to Malcolm. I wish him well in Tennessee.”
Belichick also reiterated his respect for Titans head coach (and former Patriots linebacker) Mike Vrabel and GM Jon Robinson, also a former member of the Patriots. Robinson was the Patriots’ director of college scouting from 2009-13, working in various roles starting in 2002.
A predictable answer from Belichick, and a frustrating one for those who still seek answers as to why Butler didn’t play a single defensive snap in the Super Bowl – especially in the second half, when it was clear that the personnel on the field wasn’t good enough to slow down Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles.
At the end of the day, the benching clearly didn’t hurt Butler financially. And while Belichick has seen an unprecedented level of blowback over his decision, which some have argued directly cost the Patriots a Super Bowl title, it’s still a decision that he made during the 2017 season.
Belichick is on to 2018, as you’d expect. No decision he made last season is going to be addressed now. That’s just how it is with the Patriots head coach. Reporters with access to Belichick will keep trying, which is their prerogative. But the coach’s decision to bench Butler may never get any less perplexing.
— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at email@example.com.