Patriots

Patriots

FOXBORO -- You may have heard. Bill Belichick isn't a big fan of delving into that which is not relevant to today. Or this week. Or the upcoming opponent. 

Outside of the occasional stroll down memory lane -- including but not limited to topics pertaining to Navy's football program or the 1980s Giants -- the Patriots head coach is more of a in-the-moment kind of guy. 

But during Belichick's press conference on the first day of training camp at Gillette Stadium, he was met with a mini-barrage of questions about Super Bowl LII and Malcolm Butler's lack of playing time in particular.

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"I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't ask about last year," the Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy began.

"Last year's last year," Belichick said, interrupting. "I'm not focused on last year."

Shaughnessy persisted, arguing that fans are still curious about the decision not to play Butler (outside of one special teams snap) against the Eagles with a Lombardi Trophy on the line. 

"We talked about that," Belichick said. "That's multiple months ago."

Will there be any explanation as to why Butler didn't play, Shaughnessy asked? 

"Focused on training camp," Belichick said.

Shaughnessy once more brought up the fact that fans and others are still curious about how things played out in Minnesota in February. 

"I'm focused on doing the best that I can for the 2018 New England Patriots," Belichick said. "That's my job. That's what I'm going to do. That's what I've always done in the past. Every day that I've coached here, I've done the best that I could for this football team. I'll continue to do that, and right now my focus is on the 2018 season. Not 2017, not 2014, not 2007, not 2004, not 2001, not 2000. I'm not focused on any of those seasons. They're done."

 

Belichick was asked, finally, if he thought it necessary to address Butler's playing time in the final game of the 2017 season with this year's club. Veterans reported to camp on Wednesday, and their first practice will be held Thursday.

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The train is about to leave the station. Time for one last, longing glance backward in front of the almost 90 players currently on the roster? Is that important to Belichick? 

"It's important for me to have a good season in 2018," Belichick replied. "I'm going to do everything I can to do that. Because that's what I can do for our football team. That's my job. That's my responsibility. That's what I'm going to try to do. Hopefully you can respect that, but maybe not."

Shaughnessy did his job, representing the still-nagging interests of Patriots fans. Belichick did his, focusing on what's ahead on the eve of his first on-the-field workout with this year's team. 

For fans who have come to terms with the fact that Butler's playing time in the Super Bowl will forever be classified as "unsolved," Belichick's answers Wednesday may have been enough. For others? Probably not. And for them, the wait for an explanation continues. 

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