Belichick in midseason form, quiets lingering Super Bowl question

Ask Bill Belichick a question he doesn't like, and you know what kind of answer you'll get.

Still, longtime Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy thought he'd try to ask the question many New England fans themselves have wanted to ask for almost six months: Why didn't the Patriots coach play cornerback Malcolm Butler -- the hero of New England's defeat of Seattle in the Super Bowl two seasons earlier-- in last season's Super Bowl loss to Philadelphia?

Shaughnessy asked the question gently at a news conference Wednesday morning, starting with this -- "I know you're all about this year and we all understand that" -- but Belichick rebuffed him at every turn. Finally, the coach put an end to the questioning with this response:

"I'm focused on doing the best I can for the 2018 New England Patriots. That's my job. That's what I'm going to do. That's what I've always done in the past. Every day I've coached here, I've done the best that I could for this football team. I'll continue to do that. Right now my focus is on the 2018 season. Not 2017, not 2014, 2007, not 2004, not 2001, not 2000. I'm not focused on any of those seasons. They're done."

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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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One thing is certain: Butler signed an offseason 5-year, $61 million contract with the Tennessee Titans.

But why he didn't play in the Super Bowl will continue to puzzle Patriots fans.

--Field Level Media

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