“A perfect storm of issues” led to Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler being benched for Super Bowl 52, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday evening.
Butler, who because of illness arrived in Minneapolis a day after the rest of the Patriots, apparently didn’t practice well and, in a final complicating factor, violated a team rule “believed to be related to curfew,” according to the report.
Teams and coaches have always embraced the underdog role. The Eagles and Pederson brought it to a new level, as the team was motivated by the disrespect shown by oddsmakers who had the sixth-seeded Falcons and then the Vikings favored over the top-seeded Eagles.
The dog masks were a cute prop, but they sent a message of how the team and the proud city of Philadelphia felt when they were written off as injuries mounted. Besides Wentz, the Eagles lost All-Pro tackle Jason Peters, middle linebacker (and defensive signal caller) Jordan Hicks, elusive running back Darren Sproles, special teams captain Nick Maragos and kicker Caleb Sturgis.
They lost twice to the Giants, and unless you believe Seattle’s Russell Wilson intentionally tossed an interception at the goal line and Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan threw the game with play-calling, there is no cheat code for those New England victories. Had the Patriots lost those two games, the narrative around Belichick and Brady would be a hell of a lot different.
Two, there is never a good explanation for the entanglements within Goodell’s web. Does Goodell instruct officials not to call penalties on the Patriots? Do Belichick and Brady have knowledge of the situation? Is a ref patting Brady on the shoulder indicative of a league-wide conspiracy that if uncovered would destroy the NFL? If such conspiracy existed, millions would never watch again.