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NFLPA files complaint over punishment of Malcolm Butler

Malcolm Butler arrived late to a voluntary organized team activity practice on May 26 because weather issues grounded his planes in Mississippi and Georgia.
Malcolm Butler arrived late to a voluntary organized team activity practice on May 26 because weather issues grounded his planes in Mississippi and Georgia. AP

Another day, another accusation of the Patriots bending the rules.

The NFL Players Association filed a complaint with the NFL Management Council Wednesday over the punishment of Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler during organized team activities, a union source confirmed to the Globe.

The NFLPA filed the complaint without Butler’s consent, as Butler said he did not have any problem with the punishment. But the union is displeased with the Patriots disciplining Butler for arriving late to a voluntary OTA practice May 26 because weather issues grounded his flights in Mississippi and Georgia.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick kept Butler off the practice field for six practices over two weeks following his tardiness, though Butler was allowed to work out with the team and participate in meetings.

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But Rule 21.5.A of the collective bargaining agreement states: “No Club official may indicate to a player that the Club’s offseason workout program or classroom instruction is not voluntary (or that a player’s failure to participate in a workout program or classroom instruction will result in the player’s failure to make the Club or result in any other adverse consequences affecting his working conditions).”

If it is determined that the Patriots committed a violation in this area, Belichick will be fined $100,000 and the organization $250,000 as first-time offenders, per the CBA.

Butler was allowed to return to the practice field on June 9 and participated in the final two weeks of the offseason program. He made it clear when he returned that he agreed with the punishment and said he learned a valuable lesson about preparing for worst-case scenarios.

Butler, the Super Bowl hero who is fighting for a starting cornerback spot, had been home in Mississippi celebrating the Memorial Day weekend with family and friends.

“This [is] a big opportunity, don’t want to mess up,” he said June 12. “So, you know, I’ve got to prepare myself the best way I can. So that’s what I’m [going to] do.”

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Belichick is famous for disciplining players who arrive late for practices or meetings, but while he is allowed to do so during the season, the voluntary offseason program is a different matter.

Efforts to reach the Patriots for comment were unsuccessful.


Ben Volin can be reached at ben.volin@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin.