The day after the Philadelphia Eagles stunningly outgunned the New England Patriots 41-33 in Super Bowl LII, fans and NFL insiders alike wondered one thing: Where in the world was Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler?
The hero of Super Bowl XLIX was mysteriously situated on the bench as Nick Foles and the Eagles flew by the Patriots’ secondary for 378 yards and four touchdowns.
When asked about the Butler benching, coach Bill Belichick repeatedly gave a similar answer: “I made the decisions that give us the best chance to win.”
In the aftermath, some former Patriots players questioned the decision. The sharpest criticism came from Brandon Browner, a teammate of Butler’s in 2014.
Browner lashed out at Belichick’s move in a series of Instagram posts and then revealed the possible reason Butler was held out of the game.
“He not the first to get caught with weed,” Browner wrote. “Curfew also meant we are not allowed to have guest especially women.”
He not the first to get caught with weed, 🤷🏾♂️, curfew also meant we are not allowed to have guest especially women. I’ve ate chicken(Popeyes) in the room with a player and his wife after curfew. Bill seen that look in Toms eyes last night and thought we can win without our role players. Tom played the greatest game last name in super bowl history (statistically). But when you do wrong, nothing good can come out of that. Tom did everything he could do last night. Tom Brady was the goat last night. Malcolm’s presence was missed and felt last night. #facts 👑
In the video, Browner went on about team rules:
“For weed? For curfew? Man, do y’all history. Patriots [are] a team that gives guys second chances. I know players that they used to let [their] wives sleep in the bed with them on away games. I ain’t gonna say no names.”
Though he didn’t get specific, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported that a “minor rule violation believed to be related to curfew” figured into the benching along with several other factors.
When pressed Monday on a conference call with reporters, Belichick did admit the suspension was a bit more complicated than he previously noted.
“I appreciate the question, but it would be a much longer discussion,” Belichick said, via ESPN. “There are a lot of things that go into that. In the end, the final decision is what I said it was.”