Malcolm Butler has added an inconsequential, yet interesting, new wrinkle to the story surrounding his benching in Super Bowl LII. With so many people still wondering why Bill Belichick sat him for all defensive snaps after he'd played 97 percent of them leading up to the game, it may surprise many that the two would ever speak again.
Well, Belichick apparently reached out to Butler after the now-Titans cornerback signed with Tennessee as a free agent. As detailed in a wide-ranging story by ESPN's Cameron Wolfe, Butler revealed that the Patriots head coach called him to offer congratulations and tell him he made a good choice to sign with the Titans organization.
He also denied that any problems linger between the two sides.
"No bad blood between me and Bill Belichick," Butler said. "One of the greatest coaches ever and I care about him, I know he care about me. And this a hurtful game sometimes and it can look different than what it is. But that's my guy. ... I got a lot of respect for him."
This new detail may still not satisfy those demanding answers for Butler's benching. It certainly won't satiate the ever-voracious Dan Shaughnessy, who pressed Belichick for an answer during last Wednesday's press conference and, predictably, didn't get one.
But it's still a bit of an eyebrow-raiser that Butler got that call, accepted it, and appreciated it. It's interesting that Belichick made that call amid all the furor and confusion over his decision. Fair or not, it's a move that will hang over the Patriots' loss in Super Bowl LII like a dark cloud forever.
And, unfortunately, there may never be a definitive answer for why Belichick did what he did. But Butler's latest revelation could give further credence to the overriding theory that, in fact, it really was just a football decision. A bold decision that blew up in Belichick's face and may go down as the most ill-advised of his career, but a decision based purely on football.
You'd think that if the Butler benching happened because of any off-field issues or for disciplinary reasons, then it would've been out by now. That's probably just not the case. Butler seems to understand as much as anyone that Belichick made a decision for the football team and the football team only, and he's come to accept it as much as he can.
Butler's certainly happy now, well-paid for his services and reportedly looking good so far in Titans training camp. Belichick, meanwhile, has some work to do in order to alleviate the sting of the Patriots' loss in Minneapolis nearly six full months ago. Whatever happens from here may never completely make that pain go away. Frankly, Belichick probably doesn't even care about that.
But based on Butler's new comments, Belichick at least cared about him enough to make that call. Even if it was all just lip service, he made a call that he did not necessarily need to make. It probably wasn't a comfortable call, either.
Still, it's (one more time) interesting that Belichick didn't have as much "bad blood" with Butler as his Super Bowl decision made it appear.
— 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 protected].