Ex-Patriots CB Malcolm Butler relives Russell Wilson’s Super Bowl INT

PHOENIX – Malcolm Butler knows what’s coming.

In a way, it’s just so fitting.

Butler, the former Patriots and Titans cornerback, will be on his couch watching Super Bowl LVII on Sunday night, and at some point the climax of his greatest game of all time will flicker across the screen. It’s been discussed at each of the last seven Super Bowls, but this is the first time the game has returned to Arizona since his dramatic last-minute interception against the Seahawks.

“It happens every year,” Butler said the athlete. “It’s amazing that I’ll be in the history books until the day I die. It’s something my kids can look up to, my family. It’s a great thing. I’m trying to be as humble as possible, but this game is better than many players’ careers. I tried not to make a living from it alone. Aside from that, I’ve done more, but that’s what put me on the map. That’s a great thing.”

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Butler, who was in town with Hydroxycut last week, thoroughly enjoyed reliving some of those old memories of the Patriots’ trip to the desert at the end of the 2014 season.

“It takes me back in time,” Butler said. “I made a damn good game. I came here to Arizona and I see the stadium and I just thought about it when I was a rookie and didn’t think I was going to be able to play in the game how my life changed.

Butler, an undrafted rookie in 2014, was on the ball throughout training camp and deservedly made the 53-man roster, but he was still the last cornerback on a depth chart that included Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Kyle Arrington and Logan Ryan belonged. Butler only played 184 snaps in the regular season — and didn’t play a defensive snap in nine of those 16 games — but was substituted on late during the Super Bowl because New England’s corners were struggling.

The Patriots had just taken a 28-24 lead when Tom Brady hit Julian Edelman for a 3-yard touchdown at 2:06 in the fourth quarter, but Russell Wilson and the defending champion Seahawks had driven to the 1-yard line with 26 seconds to go.

It seemed a foregone conclusion that the Patriots’ Super Bowl drought would stretch into a 10th year before Butler stole a pass intended for Ricardo Lockette.

“[Wilson]was looking at me (before the snap),” Butler recalled. “I had my head straight, but I could cut my eyes out of my helmet to see him, so I knew it was something. He just kept looking over there (at me).

“I knew the play was coming. I knew I would make this game. I always say to myself, if they let the ball run, hey, I’m a cornerback. I don’t know who tossed me on the 1 yard line. You either run the ball into the A or B gap or somewhere up there. When I saw the formation and saw Russell staring at me, I said, “Oh yeah, that’s it.” I saw the wide receiver make that jab move and I just took it with me. I ran off and made the game.

Former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski also recalled last week’s game.

“Malcolm Butler has been doing theater all year,” Gronkowski said. “He was always an eye opener from the start of camp when he first came there as a rookie. He did plays and only got wet feet. He popped up here and there. We knew he was going to do a play for us at some point, and it turned out to be the biggest play of the year.”


Former Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler was a big reason these hats are fake. (Courtesy of Hydroxycut)

Butler joined the Cardinals in 2021 but dropped out during training camp for personal reasons. He tried to give the Patriots another try that season, but suffered a hip injury during a preseason game and was released with an injury rule.

He did not want to rule out a resumption in 2023.

“I came back with a chip on my shoulder,” said Butler, who turns 33 in March and is going back to school working toward his physical education education degree. “It did not work. All the hits I took and stuff like that, and to get up there, to be back on the field, I hurt myself picking up the football. I stepped out of my frame, hurt my hip, derailed everything. It got me down a bit because I was trying to end my career up there, playing ball, doing what I love to do, but it just didn’t work out that way. I needed to recover and get better. I’ll try to do another run if I can. I’m not sure yet. I work out. I’ll stay ready so I don’t have to get ready, but I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet.”

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Could he still get the storybook ending with the Patriots?

“I’m not sure,” Butler said. “I am ready to seize any opportunity. When I play football again I will take every opportunity that comes my way and I will take it. I will grind and make the most of this opportunity. When something is gone, you have to cherish those moments. I love the football game. It’s hard to get into the NFL. I just can’t take those moments for granted.”

(Photo above: Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today)

https://theathletic.com/4185967/2023/02/12/malcolm-butler-patriots-super-bowl-int/ Ex-Patriots CB Malcolm Butler relives Russell Wilson’s Super Bowl INT

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