ORLANDO – Add our Malcolm Butler queries to the list of items Bill Belichick sidestepped during our session with him Sunday evening.
- Belichick not into interpreting Brady's state of mind
- Belichick keeps lips sealed on possible Gronk retirement
Butler was famously left in mothballs during Super Bowl 52 when the Patriots were allowing 41 points to the Nick Foles-led Eagles offense.
Butler, who has since signed with the Titans, has been living on the high road ever since . . .
Just spoke with Malcolm Butler on a number of topics, including his Super Bowl benching. He hasn’t spoken with Bill Belichick since they departed Minnesota but surmised why he didn’t play that night: pic.twitter.com/ccCsoCLnLj— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) March 14, 2018
Belichick maintained in the days after the Super Bowl loss that the benching was strictly a football decision.
Asked by ESPN’s Mike Reiss about Butler at the NFL’s Annual Meeting here at the Ritz-Carlton, Belichick said, “I have a lot of respect for Malcolm. From the day he got here, in rookie minicamp four years ago, he's always competed as hard as he could. He always is a great competitor on the field. I totally respect that.
"I'm not going to get into last year, I'm not going to get into next year or some other year. I talked to Malcolm, I wish him well in Tennessee. Obviously [head coach] Mike [Vrabel] and [general manager] Jon [Robinson] are great people I have a lot of respect for in that organization. I have a lot of respect for Malcolm. We wish him well."
That isn’t going to cease conversation, speculation and irritation over Butler fiddling while Rome burned. But that’s what we got.