Patriots reportedly benched Malcolm Butler for the Super Bowl because of rough practice, sickness and a rule violation

One of the biggest mysteries from Sunday night’s Super Bowl was the benching of Malcolm Butler.

The New England starting cornerback who played on almost 98 percent of the regular season defensive snaps for the Patriots played zero on Sunday.

Butler was reportedly distraught after the game, and head coach Bill Belichick was typically obtuse when explaining the decision.

“We put the players out there and the game plan out there that we thought would be the best tonight like we always do,” Belichick told reporters asking about Butler after the game.

Belichick also said that discipline was not a factor in Butler’s benching.

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Malcolm Butler through the years
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Malcolm Butler through the years
FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 02: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots reacts alongside Malcolm Butler #21 and Akeem Ayers #54 after defeating the Denver Broncos at Gillette Stadium on November 2, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Jermaine Kearse #15 of the Seattle Seahawks and Malcolm Butler #21 of the New England Patriots stretch to catch the ball in the third quarter during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Malcolm Butler #21 of the New England Patriots makes an interception against the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth quarter during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 04: Malcolm Butler of the New England Patriots waves to fans during a Super Bowl victory parade on February 4, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 in Super Bowl XLIX. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 4: Malcolm Butler of the New England Patriots and owner Robert Kraft attend the game between the Boston Celtics and the Denver Nuggets on February 4, 2015 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 07: Malcolm Butler of the New England Patriots arrives at Chateau Nightclub and Rooftop at Paris Las Vegas on February 7, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mindy Small/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Malcolm Butler and Julian Edelman poses at the The 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards on February 8, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
FOXBOROUGH , MA - JUNE 11: New England Patriots player Malcolm Butler at pre-season practice at Gillette Stadium. (Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 15: Malcolm Butler #21 of the New England Patriots breaks up a pass intended for Odell Beckham #13 of the New York Giants during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium on November 15, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 15: Malcolm Butler #21 of the New England Patriots reacts against the New York Giants during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium on November 15, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 20: New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler at Foxborough, Mass., on Jan. 20, 2016. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 25: Malcolm Butler, left, and Dion Lewis of the New England Patriots watch the game between the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks during the third quarter at TD Garden on February 25, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 20: New England Patriots Malcolm Butler runs off the field after they defeated San Francisco 49ers 30-17. The San Fransisco 49ers host the New England Patriots at Levis Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Nov. 20, 2016. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - DECEMBER 24: New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) recovers a fumble during the first quarter of the National Football League game between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets on December 24, 2016, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JULY 30: New England Patriots corner back Malcolm Butler (21) signs autographs during New England Patriots training camp on July 30, 2017, at the Patriots Practice Facility in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 11: NFL Cornerback Malcolm Butler attends the ESPN Magazin Body Issue pre-ESPYS party at Avalon Hollywood on July 11, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 05: New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) before the NFL game between the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on October 5, 2017, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 29: Malcolm Butler #21 and Duron Harmon #30 of the New England Patriots defend a pass from Mike Williams #81 of the Los Angeles Chargers during the third quarter of a game at Gillette Stadium on October 29, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Malcolm Butler #21 of the New England Patriots reacts in the fourth quarter during the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 25: New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) at Patriots practice in Foxborough, MA on Jan. 25, 2018. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
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Belichick addressed the issue again during a Monday conference call, but had little to add.

“I respect Malcolm’s competitiveness,” Belichick told reporters. “I’m sure that he felt like he could’ve helped. I’m sure other players felt the same way. In the end, we have to make decisions that are best for the football team.”

A Monday report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport sheds some light that a rules violation may have played a factor.

Butler did not travel with the team to Minneapolis and missed media day with an illness. According to Rapaport, that illness along with a rough week of practice and a minor rules violation led to a staple of the Patriots defense and a past Super Bowl hero to miss Sunday’s game that saw Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles throw for 373 yards and three touchdowns.

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Major moments from Super Bowl LII
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Major moments from Super Bowl LII
NFL Football - Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots - Super Bowl LII - U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. - February 4, 2018 Philadelphia Eagles�Rodney McLeod and Malcolm Jenkins during the national anthems before the game REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
NFL Football - Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots - Super Bowl LII - U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. - February 4, 2018. Philadelphia Eagles? Alshon Jeffery scores a touchdown. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
Feb 4, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan (15) carries the ball after a catch past Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Tim Jernigan (93) during the first quarter in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 4, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (17) makes a touchdown catch against New England Patriots cornerback Eric Rowe (25) during the first quarter in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Brandin Cooks #14 of the New England Patriots is tended to by the trainers after sustaining an injury during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Brandin Cooks #14 of the New England Patriots is tended to by the trainers after sustaining an injury during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Patrick Robinson #21 of the Philadelphia Eagles and Danny Amendola #80 of the New England Patriots are seperated by Malcolm Jenkins #27 after they exchange words after the whistle during the second quarter in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots drops a pass inteded for him from teammate Rob Gronkowski #87 (not pictured) during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Stephen Gostkowski (L) of the New Enlgand Patriots walks off the filed following an unsuccessful field goal attempt against the Philadelphia Eagles during Super Bowl LII at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on February 4, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Corey Clement #30 of the Philadelphia Eagles makes the catch defended by Jordan Richards #37 of the New England Patriots in the second quarter of Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: The New England Patriots defense tackles Nelson Agholor #13 of the Philadelphia Eagles during the second quarter in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Tom Brady #12 celebrates with David Andrews #60 of the New England Patriots during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Alshon Jeffery #17 of the Philadelphia Eagles bobbles the pass under pressure from Stephon Gilmore #24 of the New England Patriots as teamamte Duron Harmon #30 (not pictured) intercepts the ball in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Corey Clement (L) of the Eagles scores against the Patriots during Super Bowl LII between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on February 4, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Timothy A. CLARY / ALTERNATIVE CROP (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Chris Hogan #15 of the New England Patriots makes a catch defended by Rodney McLeod #23 of the Philadelphia Eagles in the third quarter of Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Chris Hogan #15 of the New England Patriots celebrates after a 26-yard touchdown catch against the Philadelphia Eagles during the third quarter in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots catches a 5-yard pass for a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles during the third quarter in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots has the ball stripped by Brandon Graham #55 of the Philadelphia Eagles late in the fourth quarter in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Brandon Graham #55 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates with teammates after forcing a fumble by Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots (not pictured) during the fourth quarter in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throws a pass against the Philadelphia Eagles during the fourth quarter in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts after fumbling the ball during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots 41-33. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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NBC Sports Boston’s Michael Giardi, meanwhile, reports that Patriots team captains were aware ahead of the game that Butler was going to be benched.

Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy blasted Belichick on Monday for his lack of transparency over why Butler didn’t play in the most important game of the season.

“The Patriots lost a very winnable Super Bowl Sunday night in some part because Bill benched cornerback Malcolm Butler for some undisclosed infraction or violation of the Patriot code,” Shaughnessy wrote.

With no clear answer still available, Belichick’s decision to bench Butler is still one of the most baffling in the history of the Super Bowl and one that Patriots fans will have a hard time forgetting.

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