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Malcolm Butler: Patriots 'probably' win SB had I played

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If Patriots fans can't help but ponder New England's fate had Malcolm Butler played in the Super Bowl -- they're not alone.

Malcolm Butler thinks about it, too.

"I never missed a game. Never missed practice or anything like that. Would we have won if I played? Probably. Maybe. I'm not sure," Butler, the cornerback infamously benched before New England's 41-33 loss to the Eagles, said during an episode of SI: Under the Cover, via NESN.

"I would say we were short about one or two plays," Butler added, "and I saw a couple plays out there I could have made."

Calmer words this time around from Butler, who told ESPN's Mike Reiss after the Super Bowl: "They gave up on me. F---. It is what it is."

After signing with the Titans earlier this month, Butler told reporters he "never got a reason" for his surprise benching, but offered his personal theory on a story that simply refuses to go away.

"I got kind of sick. I went to the hospital," Butler said. "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 [Patriots coach] Bill Belichick has been doing this for a very long time."

Playing to type, Belichick refused to shed light on the mystery at this week's owners meetings in Orlando, cantankerously brushing off scribes to say: "I'm not going to get into last year, I'm not going to get into next year or some other year. I talked to Malcolm. I wish him well in Tennessee."

During the SI feature, Butler admitted the demotion almost prompted him to take action during the Super Bowl.

"There were times that I was on the sideline that I just wanted to go up and say to Belichick or [former Patriots coordinator] Matt Patricia and just say, 'This is how we're going to end this?'" said Butler, whose last-second pick sealed New England's victory in Super Bowl XLIX.

"I grew up in the Patriots system, and I'm a well-mannered guy. I respect my authority. I just couldn't ask them for something they didn't want to do. I just was doing my job. I was close to going up there and saying what I wanted to say to Matt or Belichick, but I just stayed in my lane and just did my job, man."

For what it's worth, at least a handful of Butler's old teammates see the story from both sides:

We're in an era where nearly every Super Bowl gives birth to some largely manufactured storyline guaranteed to pester us all offseason.

As Butler continues to talk -- and be quizzed -- about his final game in a Patriots jersey, it's no sure bet we'll get to the bottom of this one with Belichick treating the matter like an ancient secret from the bowels of the Kremlin.

Where are you, Nancy Drew? Come finish off this case once and for all, please.

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