Malcolm Butler of the Patriots Denies Wild Super Bowl Week Rumors

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In two weeks of interview sessions with the news media leading up to Super Bowl LII, there was no indication that Malcolm Butler of the New England Patriots was not going to play against the Philadelphia Eagles.

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Steven Senne/Associated Press

Everyone seems to have a theory as to why Malcolm Butler, a starting cornerback for the Patriots, was benched for New England’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII. But as the rumored explanations have continued to swirl, Butler has stuck to his assertion that he did nothing wrong — and h e appears to have the support of Tom Brady in that claim.

Butler, a pending free agent who played in more than 97 percent of his team’s defensive snaps during the season but took the field for just one special teams play in the Super Bowl, posted a statement on Instagram and Twitter asserting that the rumors he had been partying or missed curfew were untrue.

“During Super Bowl week I never attended any concert, missed curfew, or participated any of the ridiculous activities being reported,” his statement said of the rumors. “They are not only false, but hurtful, to me and my family.”

Brady, who was reported by ESPN to have clashed with Coach Bill Belichick repeatedly this season, showed support for Butler in a comment on the Instagram post, saying: “Love you, Malcolm. You are an incredible player and teammate and friend. Always!!!”

Butler’s absence was a hot topic after the game. The official story from Belichick, and several players, was that Eric Rowe had been informed shortly before kickoff that he would start in Butler’s place. Rowe, who is younger, taller and heavier than Butler, could have been tapped because of Nick Foles’s reliance on throwing to his big tight ends. B ut the Eagles got plenty of production out of smaller, faster wide receivers, such as Nelson Agholor and Torrey Smith, which Butler presumably could have helped stop.

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