New England Patriots’ Dynasty series hints at Super Bowl rift between Bill Belichick, Malcolm Butler

Bill belichick, Malcolm Butler, New England Patriots
Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest mysteries in recent NFL history is what led New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick to bench Malcolm Butler in Super Bowl LII against the Philadelphia Eagles. Six years later, the new Patriots’ docuseries might finally be providing a little more detail.

Leading up to Super Bowl LII in 2018, Butler played in all 16 regular-season games and made 11 starts. He was just two years removed from earning second-team All-Pro honors and the veteran cornerback started in both AFC playoff games before the Super Bowl.

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However, in the matchup against the Eagles’ offense, Butler didn’t log a single defensive snap. Patriots’ players were baffled by the benching and Belichick refused to provide answers to reporters following the 41-33 loss to Philadelphia.

The reasoning behind the benching has been a well-kept secret from the general public and Patriots’ players and coaches over the years. However, the full release of Apple’s multi-part series “The Dynasty” has seemingly provided a little more clarity on what was going on between Butler and Belichick.

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Patriots owner Robert Kraft was asked during a series of interviews for the documentary about what happened leading up to Butler’s benching before Super Bowl 52. As he told Apple, there was reportedly conflict between Belichick and New England’s starting cornerback.

“What has been told to me is that there was something personal going on between Bill and Malcolm, that was not football related. I always felt that every decision Bill had made had been to put what was in the best interests of the team first, and put emotion aside. But, with Malcolm, he did just the opposite.”

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft on Bill Belichick benching Malcom Butler in Super Bowl LII (H/T Boston.com)

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Belichick refused to answer questions from Apple’s filmmakers on the decision to bench Butler, but Kraft and the presentation of what transpired suggests it was a personal decision and not motivated by what was best for the Patriots’ defense.

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One big reason the rationale behind the decision has been such a well-kept secret is that Belichick seemingly hasn’t told anyone about why he did it. Former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, safety Devin McCourty and even Butler told Apple they still don’t know why the call was made.

It’s a call that certainly proved costly. New England’s defense surrendered 538 total yards to the Eagles in that game, including 373 passing yards and 3 touchdowns to quarterback Nick Foles. While no one in the documentary has a precise understanding of what led Belichick to bench Butler, it appears clear that personal issues between the head coach and quarterback resulted in the call.

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