Belichick's past unorthodox moves like using wide receivers Julian Edelman and Troy Brown as defensive backs could always be justified as genius from a prescient mad scientist, but benching Butler was different. You feel me? I can't rock with that. We don't know whether he was benched for football reasons, as Bill Belichick stated, or for disciplinary reasons, as many people are speculating.
Patriots linebacker Don'ta Hightower took a passive-aggressive jab at his head coach by liking a critical Instagram post from former teammate Brandon Browner, who wrote this under a caption of Belichick after the Super Bowl: "Lost the game for us tonight. In the end, we have to make the decisions that we feel are best for the football team, and that's what we did, that's what I did". "I respect Malcolm's competitiveness, and I'm sure that he felt like he could have helped".
Butler said after the game that he wasn't sure why he was benched. The fact that Butler even dressed for the game, instead of simply being deactivated in favor of someone who would actually play, makes the decision all the more puzzling.
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Browner doubled down in a subsequent post, saying "a locker room was divided pregame". "I don't know what it was".
Butler became an instant hero in New England after making the game-saving interception for the Patriots against the Seattle Seahawks in the 2014 season.
The decision to not play Butler came down to matchups, according to defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. I guess I wasn't playing good or they didn't feel comfortable.
"Very frustrating", Rowe said.
"I didn't know that", Long said. And after the game, he told ESPN, that he "could have changed that game".
The three players that the Patriots chose to use instead of Butler, Rowe, Johnson Bademosi and Jordan Richards, all graded out significantly worse than Butler. Asked by Reiss what would come next for him, Butler replied, "I ain't Miss Cleo, so I can't tell the future".