Malcolm Butler moving on from Super Bowl benching, thankful for second chance with Patriots

"I love the game and I'm blessed to have another opportunity to play thanks to the Patriots."

Malcolm Butler Patriots
Malcolm Butler during a game against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium in 2015. Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini
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If Malcolm Butler hashed out any old business or buried any hatchets with Bill Belichick when discussing his potential return to Foxborough, the one-time, once-again Patriots cornerback isn’t talking much about it.

“We just talked about the contract,” Butler told reporters Monday afternoon when asked about his conversation with the coach. “He asked me, was I locked in, was I all in ready to play? I told him, yeah, I am. He said, ‘I know you took a year off and you know the transition’s going to be hard since you took a year off.’ But you know I’m up for the challenge.”


Though the Super Bowl XLIX hero hinted he’s already “shared his feelings” with Belichick about his infamous benching in Super Bowl LII, he said he’d keep those conversations where the Patriots always keep them: in-house.

“I ain’t got too much to say about that, man,” he said. “I’m trying to live in the present. You can’t think about the past all the time. I’ve moved on from that. I know it’ll always be there.

“But,” he added, “I haven’t said anything to anybody about anything. So you don’t have to keep doing your research or whatever you guys do because I’m here for the Patriots and I’m here to be peaceful.”

There you have it.

Butler predictably wasn’t interested in talking much about his past with the Patriots, whether that was his Super Bowl-winning pick against the Seattle Seahawks or the enigmatic ending to his first stint in New England. In any case, there was plenty to talk about aside from that, including how he’ll fare after abruptly retiring before the 2020 season and being out of the league for a year.

Interestingly, he said the lessons he learned from Belichick factored into his decision to walk away from the game.


“Belichick always says, ‘Do the best for the team.’ At that time, I think I did what was best for me and my family. If you’re not prepared mentally, you can’t do nothing physically. So I think I made the right decision by doing that.

“I came out of retirement because I love the game of football. I love the game and I’m blessed to have another opportunity to play thanks to the Patriots.”

Still, Butler admitted he didn’t expect to come back to New England, saying he was surprised when his agent told him of the team’s interest in him in free agency.

But the combination of the former undrafted free agent’s desire to get back into the NFL, and the Patriots’ dire need at cornerback helped the match coalesce — along with Butler’s refusal to publicly rip New England.

“One thing I learned: you never burn your bridges down,” he said. “You handle situations as a man, as a grown-up. If I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to come back here.”

Now, Butler, who signed a two-year contract up to $9 million with the Patriots, could factor heavily into a patchwork cornerback group heading into 2022.


Of course, a lot of that will depend on how the veteran corner regains his form after a long layoff from football. But Butler assured reporters he hasn’t been “sitting on the coach” and is ready to hit the ground running.

When asked if he could be the same player he was when he retired in 2022, his answer was simple and emphatic: “Yes, sir!”


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