Belichick isn't saying why he benched Butler in Super Bowl

 
 
Updated 2/5/2018 5:57 PM
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  • New England Patriots defensive end Eric Lee takes questions from reporters in the team's locker room, Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, at Gillette Stadium, in Foxborough, Mass., following the team's loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL Super Bowl 52 football game in Minneapolis, Sunday.

    New England Patriots defensive end Eric Lee takes questions from reporters in the team's locker room, Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, at Gillette Stadium, in Foxborough, Mass., following the team's loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL Super Bowl 52 football game in Minneapolis, Sunday. Associated Press

  • New England Patriots defensive end Eric Lee takes questions from reporters in the team's locker room, Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, at Gillette Stadium, in Foxborough, Mass., following the team's loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL Super Bowl 52 football game in Minneapolis, Sunday.

    New England Patriots defensive end Eric Lee takes questions from reporters in the team's locker room, Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, at Gillette Stadium, in Foxborough, Mass., following the team's loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL Super Bowl 52 football game in Minneapolis, Sunday. Associated Press

  • Fans wave as a bus carrying New England Patriots NFL football players and staff arrives at Gillette Stadium, in Foxborough, Mass., Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, after the team's loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL Super Bowl in Minneapolis, Sunday.

    Fans wave as a bus carrying New England Patriots NFL football players and staff arrives at Gillette Stadium, in Foxborough, Mass., Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, after the team's loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL Super Bowl in Minneapolis, Sunday. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Jan. 13, 2018, file photo, New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia leaves the field after an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Tennessee Titans in Foxborough, Mass. The Detroit Lions have hired Patricia as their coach. The expected hiring came a day after the Patriots lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl.

    FILE - In this Jan. 13, 2018, file photo, New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia leaves the field after an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Tennessee Titans in Foxborough, Mass. The Detroit Lions have hired Patricia as their coach. The expected hiring came a day after the Patriots lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl. Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick was no more forthcoming on Monday about his surprise benching of one-time Super Bowl star Malcolm Butler.

Speaking on a conference call the day after the Patriots blew their chance at a sixth NFL title with a 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Belichick said "there are a lot of things that go into that." He declined to be specific.

Butler's interception in the end zone in the final minute of the Super Bowl against Seattle clinched New England's 2014 NFL championship. He had been one of the Patriots' steadiest players this season, appearing in 98 percent of the defensive snaps and starting 17 of 18 games this season.

But the defensive back made it on the field for only one play on Sunday - on special teams. He appeared to be crying during the national anthem. And after the game, he told ESPN, that he "could have changed that game."

Belichick said on Monday: "I respect Malcolm's competitiveness, and I'm sure that he felt like he could have helped. I'm sure other players felt the same way."

Butler was not available to the media after the team's buses returned to their home stadium on Monday afternoon. Only a few dozen fans were waiting to greet them.

Only one player commented, defensive lineman Eric Lee.

"That doesn't concern me at all," he said when asked about Butler's benching. "I'm the wrong person to talk to about that."

Butler's locker had unopened packages loaded in front of it. On the shelves were game balls; at the bottom was a stack of cleats.

Butler is an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He's one of many holes the team would need to fill from a defense that gave up 538 yards in the Super Bowl.

Another is defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, who was hired as the head coach of the Detroit Lions on Monday. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is expected to get the top job in Indianapolis this week.

Belichick and owner Robert Kraft are also scheduled to meet to clear the air over the trade of Jimmy Garoppolo that left the Patriots without a successor to 40-year-old Tom Brady at quarterback.

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