What would Super Bowl week be without mention of Malcolm Butler?
The undrafted cornerback famously helped the New England Patriots win Super Bowl XLIX with a goal-line interception. Three years later, Bill Belichick relegated Butler to the bench in New England's Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, a decision that remains one of the great mysteries of the Patriots' modern dynasty.
We still don't know why Belichick didn't play Butler in that game. But veteran safety Devin McCourty attempted to clear up the debate of when Butler was benched during an interview Friday with 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher & Rich."
In fact, many people did think Butler's benching was a last-minute development --- considering teammate Eric Rowe told reporters "that wasn't the plan" and Butler himself said he wasn't given a reason why he didn't play.
McCourty told NBC Sports Boston's Phil Perry right after the game -- a 41-33 Patriots loss in which Nick Foles threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns -- the Patriots knew going in that Butler wouldn't play.
McCourty walked back those comments a few weeks later, saying he and his teammates knew Butler wasn't going to start but didn't know he wouldn't play.
Based on what McCourty said Friday, though, his initial remarks were accurate: He and his teammates were aware the entire week that Butler wouldn't be a major factor.
Case closed -- unless Belichick decides to finally enlighten us on the whole matter. (Don't hold your breath.)
The New England sports scene has been quite eventful over the last 10 years. In an effort to let your thoughts be heard, we took to social media to see which memories stood out the most:
Here’s what you said:
1. “This is our f--king city, and nobody gonna dictate our freedom.”
In a moment that transcended sports, David Ortiz took the mic at Fenway Park to proclaim that Boston would not back down despite the terrorism it faced during the 2013 Boston marathon bombings.
Fast forward to the 2013 ALCS, Ortiz would hit a grand slam in Game 2 that tied the game in the eighth inning before a Jarrod Saltalamacchia over the Tigers. The Red Sox would eventually go to win the World Series at home.
2. Isaiah Thomas’ 53-point performance on late sister's birthday
On April 15, 2017, Isaiah Thomas' sister, Chyna Thomas, died in a car accident at the age of 22. Her passing had a big impact on Isaiah Thomas, but he continued to play for the Celtics during their playoff run.
However, in Super Bowl 52, Butler was inexplicably benched for the game despite being the Patriots' best cornerback. He played a grand total of one snap and it came on special teams in the team's 41-33 loss to the Eagles.
Much has been made of the decision to bench Butler in the time since then, but in truth, only Bill Belichick holds the answer. And every time he was asked about it, it was a dead end.
4. The Patriots 28-3 Super Bowl 51 comeback vs the Atlanta Falcons
With the Falcons up 28-3 on the Patriots past the midway point of the third quarter, Arthur Blank and the Falcons front office looked pretty happy and confident that they had things wrapped up.
The Patriots, however, had other ideas.
The team came storming back behind strong efforts from the defense, Tom Brady, and James White. Eventually, they were able to force overtime for the first time in Super Bowl history and White managed to find the end zone.
That play gave Brady his fifth Super Bowl title, the most of any quarterback in NFL history, and it also gave the Patriots the largest comeback in Super Bowl history.
5. Patrice Bergeron’s series-winning goal in Game 7 vs. the Canucks
The 2011 Bruins went on a big-time run full of long, thrilling series en route to their first Stanley Cup since 1972. They took the Vancouver Canucks to Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final and Bergeron's series-winning goal secured the cup despite the Bruins being on the road.
Honorable [Twitter] mentions:
The 2008 Celtics because apparently a few of you struggle with math. It’s ok, I do too sometimes.
@SRubinroit: Meb [Keflezighi] winning the 2014 Boston Marathon a year after the bombing. @KGBligh agreed.
@shane5361: “Drafting Jaylen Brown.” We’ll just skip over the part when some people booed Wyc for announcing that pick.
@BostonSport12: “Kyrie Irving, the whole thing”
Honorable IG mentions:
@itsryanotoole: “When the Revolution beat the Red Bulls in New Jersey 2014 nothing else Is even close & if you think so you don’t know one thing about SPORTS OR BOSTON.” @dan_faynstein 2014 agreed by saying, “revs playoff run”
@truth_seek3r369: “A rookie Jayson Tatum putting lebron james on a poster 🔥” Legend has it that he was only 19.
There are so many moments that it really feels unfair to just pick one as you can see from this thread from @MikeDynon:
Just one? More like a dozen. -2013 Marathon bombing, Papi slam, WS win -Sox dominate 2018 -Malcolm Butler -Deflategate ends with SB win, Brady MVP -28-3 -Pierce/KG trade -IT becomes a legend -Hayward -Hospital Celtics come within minutes of Finals -Bruins Cup We’re never bored.
Of course, the clue refers to the Malcolm Butler interception in the final seconds of Super Bowl XLIX that sealed an improbable Patriots victory. If Seattle simply had used Marshawn Lynch to run it in from the one-yard line than attempting a quick slant pass, history probably would have been written a little differently.
Yeah, it's safe to say the Seahawks won't ever live that one down.