Malcolm Butler's benching in Super Bowl LII vs. the Philadelphia Eagles has been one of the great mysteries of the New England Patriots dynasty. While there are plenty of theories about the Super Bowl XLIX hero playing only one snap, we've never gotten a clear explanation.
An upcoming tell-all book from ESPN's Seth Wickersham titled “It’s Better to Be Feared" may have finally solved the mystery once and for all. According to Wickersham, a heated exchange between Butler and then-defensive coordinator Matt Patricia led to the cornerback's demotion.
Here's the full excerpt:
"In the lead-up to Super Bowl LII against the Philadelphia Eagles, Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia traded heated words at practice over the former Super Bowl hero's lack of effort. Butler was demoted. 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, according to the book, 'these mother f---ers.' "
Butler's absence was noticeable as the Patriots' defense was torched by Eagles quarterback Nick Foles in the 41-33 loss. Foles threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns to top Tom Brady, who had a historic performance of his own with 505 yards and three TDs.
In another expert from the book, Wickersham claims Brady told people close to him that season he no longer wanted to play for Belichick.