Former Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler says he wanted to go out like retired Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant.
“I might not be Kobe Bryant — or never be Kobe Bryant — but I always told myself that I always wanted to finish my career on one team and just go out like that,” Butler said in the latest episode of Sports Illustrated‘s “SI: Under Cover” video series.
That storybook ending won’t be the case for the 28-year-old, who — following four seasons with the Patriots — signed a five-year, $61.25 million contract with the Tennessee Titans in March. As much as he had initially wanted to extend his tenure in New England, Butler knew his time was up after Super Bowl LII.
“No one wants to be somewhere where they’re not wanted,” he told SI.
After playing in all 16 regular-season games and the Patriots’ first two playoffs contests, Butler was inexplicably benched for all but one special teams snap against the Philadelphia Eagles. It was only a few years ago that Butler, as a rookie, saved the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX with his goal-line interception against the Seattle Seahawks; however, there would be no picture-perfect moment this time around.
“There were times when I was on the sideline and I just wanted to go up to [Bill] Belichick or Matt Patricia and say, ‘This how we gonna end this?'” he said.
Despite being tempted, he ultimately restrained.
“I grew up in the Patriots system, you know, I’m a well-mannered guy, I respect my authority,” he explained. “I was close to going up there and saying what I wanted to say to Matt or Belichick, but I just stayed in my lane and just did my job, man. I really wanted to go ask them, but I didn’t.”
It’s hard to know for certain whether Butler’s participation could have changed the outcome, but the All-Pro cornerback expressed confidence he could have made at least a few plays the team missed.
“Would we have won if I played? Probably, maybe, not sure,” he said. “But I would say we were short about one or two plays, and I’ve seen a couple plays out there I could have made. It was just a coaching decision. This one didn’t work out good for me, him, or the New England Patriots organization.”
"This how we gonna end this?"
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) March 30, 2018