BOSTON (CBS) — The benching of Malcolm Butler for the entirety of Super Bowl LII has been a great mystery to most people in the world. And it remains a mystery to Butler himself.

Fresh off signing a long-term, big-money free-agent deal with the Tennessee Titans, Butler spoke to the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe and for the first time really addressed the Super Bowl benching. Just like the rest of the world, Butler is not sure why Bill Belichick didn’t let him play defense in the biggest game of the year.

“I never got a reason,” Butler told Howe. “I feel like this was the reason: I got kind of sick. I went to the hospital. They probably thought I was kind of late on the game plan. I wasn’t as locked in as I should be and could have been a matchup deal. It could have been anything. But Bill Belichick has been doing this for a very long time. He took a veteran out of Super Bowl XLIX [Kyle Arrington against the Seahawks] and put in a first-year rookie [Butler], and that turned out right, so you could never question his decision. It didn’t work out right [in Super Bowl LII]. It didn’t work out the best for me or him or the New England Patriots.

“But I can say he won more than he lost, so it is what it is. I always have love for New England, Bill Belichick, Mr. Kraft, all those guys. Life just goes on.”

Clearly in a great place mentally and emotionally after signing the big contract, Butler continued his praise, respect, and appreciation for Belichick and everyone else involved with the Patriots organization.

“I’ll always have love for New England,” Butler told Howe. “From the custodians to Belichick, all the way to Mr. Kraft, I love those guys, my teammates. I like everything about New England, especially the fans. Those fans, they really had love for me and they still do. I will always remember where I came from, and I never could forget.”

Butler also said that quarterback Tom Brady checked in on him multiple times after the Super Bowl to see how he was handling everything.

“He was really concerned, and he just wanted to know what was going on or whatever,” Butler said. “I really appreciate that from him.”


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