Malcolm Butler's benching in Super Bowl LII is still one of the great mysteries during the New England Patriots' two-decade-long dynasty. To this day, the actual truth as to why the corner, who helped clinch a title in Super Bowl XLIX just a few years prior, was left on the bench still is unsolved. The NFL-watching public is still unclear as to what happened in that loss to the Eagles, and it appears like the same can be said for players that have once donned a Patriots uniform too.
Shane Vereen, who spent his first four seasons in the NFL with the Patriots and was on-hand as Butler made that miraculous goal-line interception to help win Super Bowl XLIX against the Seahawks, appeared on WEEI's Ordway, Merloni and Fauria on Wednesday and was asked if he had heard from any of his former teammates on that infamous benching. Vereen, who said that he and Butler are friends, admitted he's asked around, but the answers he has received to this point have been very inconsistent.
"No, I have actually asked quite a few guys who were on the team at the time and I have not got the same answer twice," Vereen said. "The grassy knoll still exists."
While Vereen, who was a member of the New York Giants for the 2017 season, didn't dive too much deeper than that, he did shut down the rumor that Butler being out late and partying during Super Bowl week was the reason for his benching.
It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that the Butler benching is still murky as players who were on that Super Bowl LII team for the Patriots have publicly been pretty inconsistent with what they did and didn't know. Longtime safety Devin McCourty noted in the aftermath of the benching that Patriots players knew Butler wasn't going to be starting in the game, while other players, like wide receiver Danny Amendola, were caught off guard by it entirely.
Naturally, Bill Belichick has been mum on the matter, and Butler has stayed relatively quiet on it as well. The cornerback did speak to the Boston Herald about it a few months after the benching and after he inked a long-term deal with the Tennessee Titans. Butler noted that he "never got a reason" but theorized that it could have been due to him getting sick and missing Opening Night of Super Bowl week.
"They probably thought I was kind of late on the game plan; I wasn't as locked in as I should be and could have been a matchup deal. It could have been anything," Butler said at the time.
It's been over two years since that fateful night in Minneapolis and it still seems like we're nowhere closer to the actual truth of the matter. At this point, who knows if we'll ever figure out what exactly led to that decision.