Barry Chin/Globe staff
In a post on his social media accounts Tuesday afternoon, Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler denied reports that his benching in the Super Bowl stemmed in part from a missed curfew.
“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,” Butler wrote in the post, which went on his Instagram and Twitter accounts. “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.”
NFL Network reported that Butler, who played 97 percent of defensive snaps during the regular season but who only saw the field on one punt coverage snap in the Patriots’ 41-33 Super Bowl LII loss to the Eagles, was benched because of a combination of factors that included a difficult week of practice and a minor, curfew-related violation. Former Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner posted a video on Instagram on Monday that was supportive of Butler but also referenced marijuana use and curfew as issues, though Browner walked back his post on Tuesday, saying in a separate video that since he’s not with the team anymore he’s not entirely sure what happened.
After the Super Bowl, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said his decision not to play Butler was not discipline-related. He would not elaborate on a Monday conference call, saying it was too long a discussion to have at that time.
Butler’s post appeared to be well-received by teammates. Tom Brady was one of several teammates to like Butler’s post on Instagram. Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, defensive tackle Vincent Valentine, tackle Marcus Cannon, and linebacker Elandon Roberts also liked the post on their verified accounts.
Brady also commented: “Love you Malcolm. You are an incredible player and teammate and friend. Always!!!!!!”
Brady’s show of support for Butler may have just been the act of a teammate. But the fact that Brady chose to do so publicly did not go unnoticed as other players around the league, in addition to Browner, expressed the feeling that Belichick had gone too far in the decision to bench Butler, which came as a surprise to at least some Patriots players.
“Yo yo @Mac_BZ come to The Bay,” San Francisco wide receiver Pierre Garcon tweeted Tuesday. “@49ers we got CAP SPACE, a QB and the best receivers in the division are on your team. You won’t have to worry about the head coach being all up in the videos. All in the way and stuff. One goal in mind over here. #SB53 Let’s Get It #49erFaithful”
Still, Butler’s post didn’t express dissatisfaction beyond saying he felt he could have contributed. He praised the Patriots organization and thanked everyone involved.
“I want to thank Mr. Kraft, the Kraft family, and my coaches for giving me an opportunity to play for one of the most successful organizations in sports,” Butler wrote. “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 Belichick.”
Butler also apologized to anyone who was offended by the language he used when speaking “after the game during a very emotional time.” Butler told ESPN that the Patriots gave up on him, and he used an expletive.
Butler and the Patriots may not have too much talking left to do. Butler is entering unrestricted free agency this offseason, and it seems highly unlikely that he will re-sign with the Patriots after a rocky season culminating in the Super Bowl benching.
Read Butler’s statement below:
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