We still have no idea why did didn’t play in Super Bowl LII, but New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler has released a statement on Twitter, writing that he never took part in any of the “ridiculous” activities suggested, leading to his being benched.
“I want to thank Mr. (Robert) Kraft, the Kraft family, and my coaches for giving me an opportunity to play for one of the most successful organizations in sports,” Butler began. “I also thank my teammates, as we have won a lot of games together, and all I know is winning! I have always respected everyone at the New England Patriots organization, from Custodians, staff and coach (Bill) Belichick.
“In each of my Four years we have achieved Conference Championships or Super Bowl victories since I arrived in New England. All of this would not be possible without thanking some of the best fans in the world who have supported me from day one and, always let me know how much they appreciated me here in New England.
“During my four year career with (the) Patriots I have always given it everything I have to play at a high level, and would never do anything to hurt my team’s chances of winning a game, including this year’s Super Bowl where I visited with my family every night. During Super Bowl week I never attended any concert, missed curfew, or participated in any of the ridiculous activities being reported. They are not only false, but hurtful, to me and my family.
“Although I wish I could have contributed more to help my team win, I have to get ready for the next opportunity. Moving forward I will do what I have always done to work hard, and prepare for next season to be the best I can be on and off the field.
“Finally, I want to apologize to any offended by language reported immediately after the game during a very emotional time. It was out of character for me and my character, and heart with God’s help is what got me to where I am today. I can’t wait for the 2018 season to get here. I will be ready!”
(In the aftermath of the game, ESPN reporter Mike Reiss spoke with Butler, who said, “They gave up on me. [Expletive that begins with “F”]. It is what it is.”)
There have been various rumors and reports over the past couple of days about what led to Butler’s being in uniform but playing just one special-teams snap.
A league source who is close to Butler said on Sunday night that Butler’s benching had nothing to do with discipline or the cornerback’s illness, which led to him visiting a Massachusetts hospital before the Patriots left for Minneapolis. Butler was not well enough to travel with the team on January 29, and was flown by himself a day later.
Malcolm Butler through the years
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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Had Butler run afoul of team rules, Belichick could have sat Buler for a series – as he did with Wes Welker in the 2010 playoffs – or made Butler inactive had the infraction been more serious.
On Tuesday, the same league source once again affirmed that Butler had not done anything wrong in the days leading up to the game; the source believes the decision to bench the 27-year-old was personal because Butler is headed to free agency.
As his statement indicates, Butler does not plan on returning to the Patriots.
In 2014, the then-undrafted rookie was thrust into the spotlight when he made one of the biggest plays in Super Bowl history, making a goal-line interception of the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson to seal Super Bowl XLIX for New England, the franchise’s fourth title.