By Nick Shook
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Sure, Butler’s benching in Super Bowl LII wasn’t his decision, so it’s unfair to blame him for New England’s loss. But his absence still hindered the Patriots defensively in a shootout that didn’t end in their favor.
Now a Tennessee Titan, Butler knows this. Yet, he’s not holding any grudges for being held out of one of the biggest games of his career, even if he still doesn’t know why he ended up being a healthy scratch.
“I never got a reason,” Butler told the Boston Herald. “I feel like this was the reason: I got kind of sick. I went to the hospital. 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. But Bill Belichick has been doing this for a very long time.
“He took a veteran out of Super Bowl XLIX (against the Seahawks) and put in a first-year rookie, and that turned out right, so you could never question his decision. It didn’t work out right (against the Eagles). It didn’t work out the best for me or him or the New England Patriots. But I can say he won more than he lost, so it is what it is. I always have love for New England, Bill Belichick, Mr. Kraft, all those guys. Life just goes on.”
Butler’s life continues in Nashville, where he’ll join a team led by a new head coach with his own New England ties. He brings what is still a young, budding career to his new team and is not letting the disappointing night in Minneapolis fester inside his heart.
“I’ll always have love for New England,” Butler said. “From the custodians to Belichick, all the way to Mr. Kraft, I love those guys, my teammates. I like everything about New England, especially the fans. Those fans, they really had love for me and they still do. I will always remember where I came from, and I never could forget.”
Butler also has 61 million reasons to move on, signing a whopper of a contract with an up-and-coming Tennessee team that has assembled a group of former Patriots who figure to make an impact in 2018 and beyond. It isn’t easy to get over being forced out of the Super Bowl. But the money and fresh opportunity make it a little less difficult.