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New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is considered an evil genius for a reason. Somehow the man seems to always make the right decisions no matter how cold they may appear to be. But after Nick Foles torched his defense in Super Bowl LII Sunday night, many are wondering if the ‘evil genius’ is still a genius.
Because a genius doesn’t bench a healthy Malcolm Butler for no apparent reason—but he did.
His explanation on Monday was as bad as the one he gave Sunday (ESPN):
“I appreciate the question, but it would be a much longer discussion,” Belichick told reporters Monday. “There are a lot of things that go into that. In the end, the final decision is what I said it was.”
His answer on Sunday wasn’t any better (ESPN):
“We put the players and game plan out there that we thought would be the best like we always do.”
Butler was at a loss for words after the game and believed he could have made a difference had he played. But for some odd reason, Belichick went with Eric Rowe over him despite the fact that he had played nearly 98 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in the regular season.
Since he did get one snap on special teams, it was clearly not a health issue. So—what in the world was it?
We’ll probably not find out until after Butler signs with someone else once free agency starts. But Ian Rappaport of the NFL Network was able to shed some light on the situation Monday in a tweet:
“My understanding is the benching of #Patriots CB Malcolm Butler happened because of a perfect storm of issues: Sickness, a rough week of practice, and a minor rule violation believed to be related to curfew. A complicated matter.”
But that would mean Belichick lied to everyone. He wouldn’t do that (he said very sarcastically)!
Butler got to Minneapolis a day late due to an illness that saw him go to the hospital. But something like that shouldn’t be held against him (and can easily be proven). If he was sick, he should have had some downtime to make sure he was 100 percent come Game Day— not practicing.
Brandon Browner, a former teammate of Butler’s, made it sound as if it had something to do with marijuana in an Instagram video he posted to his own account.
As for any curfew violation—well, a head coach must maintain discipline and control over his team. But a good coach, and Belichick is one of the best, can and should do it without hurting the team. If breaking curfew is part of the reason he was benched….come on, son!
If it was marijuana related, it doesn’t matter whether marijuana is harmless, and you think it shouldn’t be illegal or banned by the NFL. It is—so, when you get caught with it or using it, there are consequences.
Was it a bad move on Butler’s part (if he was guilty)? Of course, and he has shot down the rumors about him breaking rules. But Belichick shouldn’t have damaged the team’s odds at winning the Super Bowl by disciplining him right then and there. He should have waited until after the game or when the team got back home.
If it bothered him enough, he could let him walk. But by benching him for whatever the reason was, he ensured Butler would be signing elsewhere.
Could Butler have made enough of a difference to turn the tide in New England’s favor? We’ll never know, but for once, we can seriously question one of Bill Belichick’s calls. Until Belichick comes clean, he appears to be a power-mad, egomaniac that cost his team the Super Bowl.
Or maybe he knows he screwed up and doesn’t want to look even more foolish than he already does.
The only surprising thing in this whole mess is that the NFLPA hasn’t chimed in yet. If it was disciplinary and drug related, you would think they would have a problem with Belichick being judge, jury, and executioner. They certainly hate it when Roger Goodell wields that power.
Also, with the perception hanging around that Butler may have brought this upon himself, it hurts his value in free agency. Yes, teams will look at his play on the field first. But they’ll also knock his contract offer down a couple million out of fear he may be a troublemaker.