BOSTON (CBS) — Seth Wickersham’s new book on the Patriots not only dives into the toxic relationship between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, but it also answers a question that New England fans have been asking for years: Why didn’t Malcolm Butler play in Super Bowl LII?

There have been conspiracy theories over Butler’s benching since he spent New England’s 41-33 loss to the Eagles on the bench (minus a special teams snap) in 2018. But there has been no clarity on why Butler didn’t play the most important game of the year.

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Now we finally know. According to Wickersham, Butler had a heated exchange with then-Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia during practice, leading to Butler’s demotion. Patricia was not happy with Butler’s effort on the practice field and let the cornerback know it, which led to the blowout between the two.

“At the team party after New England’s loss, Butler responded to teammates asking why he was benched by saying, ‘These dudes,’ referring to the coaches … ‘these mother f—ers,'” according to an excerpt from Wickersham’s book, “It’s Better To Be Feared.”

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New England Patriots Malcolm Butler stands on sideline during 4th quarter of Super Bowl LII. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Butler was the hero of New England’s Super Bowl XLIX win over the Seattle Seahawks a few years prior, picking off Russell Wilson in the end zone in the final seconds to preserve the victory. In the years that followed, Patricia seemed to take credit for the play, as he was the one who sent Butler on the field just before the interception.

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Butler retired from the NFL ahead of the 2021 season, and Patricia — who left New England to become head coach of the Detroit Lions in 2018 — is now back with the Patriots as senior football advisor.

CBSBoston.com Staff