Just when you think we've finally run out of reasons to stop re-living the Eagles' incredible Super Bowl LII victory, another little detail pops out of the woodwork.
If your memory serves (and it might not, considering the high stakes and high number of beverages from that fateful evening), the Patriots entered the Super Bowl with a not-great pass defense despite starting Stephon Gilmore and Malcolm Butler at CB1 and CB2. Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia's defense was allowing the eighth-most passing yards per attempt in the NFL that season, was bottom-12 in passes defended, and was in the bottom half in passing touchdowns allowed.
But Gilmore was an elite player, Butler was a past Super Bowl hero, and Nick Foles was a career backup, so the task of overcoming the Patriots' defense still felt intimidating.
And then... Butler didn't play. At all. After starting all but one game, and playing in 100% of the defensive snaps in the Pats' first two playoff games, he played just three special teams snaps against the Eagles, and the Birds tore New England up through the air en route to the championship.
It was a totally insane mystery!
And now we know what happened, thanks to an excerpt from NFL mega-insider and ESPN writer Seth Wickersham's new book detailing the inner workings of the Patriots' organization. In a preview of the book on ESPN's website published Wednesday, we finally got an answer for why Butler sat:
"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.'"
Ha. Of course it was Patricia.
The guy who flamed out of his only head coaching gig because his team hated him got into a dust-up with one of his best players before the dang Super Bowl and decided sitting him was a good idea.
Just too perfect.
Butler unsurprisingly didn't re-up with the Patriots and went on to sign a lucrative five-year deal with the Titans. He's now an Arizona Cardinal.
And the Eagles will forever be Super Bowl LII champions (41-33).
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