- The Washington Times - Monday, February 19, 2018

New England Patriots defensive back Devin McCourtytold NJ.com that he and his teammates knew starting cornerback Malcolm Butler would not start Super Bowl LII.

“We all knew he wasn’t starting all week. That wasn’t a secret to the guys on the team,” Butler said. “I get why people are fishing. The guy played 98 percent of the plays [in the regular season]. I just hate that for him character-wise going into free agency. It’s just not true. As far as I know — and I was there all week — not one time did anything come up.”

McCourty was referring to rumors that Butler missed curfew during Super Bowl week or was caught with marijuana, and that his benching was disciplinary.

McCourty added that Butler was always a “great teammate.”

He might not be McCourty’s teammate much longer, as he was already scheduled to hit free agency this offseason. It appears unlikely he will return to New England.

Whether he knew ahead of time, Butler was upset about his benching after the game, which New England lost, 41-33. He said the Patriots “gave up” on him. His replacement in the lineup, Eric Rowe, said he didn’t know he would start the Super Bowl until close to kickoff and that Butler’s benching “wasn’t the plan.”

“If he decides it’s hard to come back after that, anywhere he goes, the guy is a great football player and probably one of the most competitive people I’ve been around,” McCourty said of Butler, NJ.com reported. “With all my guys, we’re teammates and friends for life.”

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