New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler has released a statement responding to the rumors surrounding his Super Bowl LII benching.
Butler, the hero of the Patriots' 2015 Super Bowl win, was on the field for just one play of Sunday's 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. He was visibly upset by his lack of playing time after the game, telling ESPN's Mike Reiss, "They gave up on me. (Expletive). It is what is is."
In a statement posted Tuesday afternoon on Twitter and Instagram, Butler thanked owner Robert Kraft and his coaches for giving him an opportunity to play for the Patriots. He also thanked the fans for supporting and showing appreciation for him.
"During my four year career with (the) Patriots I have always given it everything I have to play at a high level, and would never do anything to hurt my team's chances of winning a game, including this year's Super Bowl where I visited my family every night," he said.
Butler attempted to dispel rumors that the reason he was held out of most of the Super Bowl had to do with missing curfew.
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"During Super Bowl week I never attended any concert, missed curfew, or participated in any of the ridiculous activities being reported," he said. "They are not only false, but hurtful, to me and my family. Although I wish I could have contributed more to help my team win, I have to get ready for the next opportunity. Moving forward I will do what I have always done to work hard, and prepare for next season to be the best I can be on and off the field."
Quarterback Tom Brady liked the post on Instagram, commenting, "Love you Malcolm. You are an incredible player and teammate and friend. Always!!!!!!"
Butler was sick with the flu for much of last week, and arrived in Minneapolis a day after his teammates so he could rest. He was limited in practice, but said on Thursday that he was "good to go" despite having made two trips to the hospital.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has said little about the reasons behind Butler's benching, calling it a coaching decision and not related to discipline.
"I respect Malcolm's competitiveness, and I'm sure he felt he could've helped. I'm sure other players felt the same way," Belichick said Monday. "In the end, we have to make the decisions we feel are best for the football team. That's what I did. That's really all I can say about it."
Belichick appeared to give one reason for the benching when asked why cornerback Johnson Bademosi was the best choice in three cornerback situations on Sunday night.
"He practiced it the most," Belichick said.
In his statement Tuesday, Butler also apologized to anyone who was offended by his use of an expletive in his interview after Sunday's game.
"It was out of character for me," he said, noting that he made the comments "during a very emotional time.
"I can't wait for the 2018 season to get here," Butler added. "I will be ready!"
He will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.