Patriots' Butler denies being benched for curfew violation
The New England Patriots' Malcolm Butler has denied reports he was benched for Super Bowl LII after breaking curfew to attend a concert.
Starting cornerback Butler was left off the field for the duration of the Patriots' 41-33 defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles in Minneapolis on Sunday.
In his absence the Patriots defense was shredded by Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, who won the game's MVP award after throwing for 373 yards and three touchdowns.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has since stood by his decision without divulging the reasoning behind Butler's omission.
Speaking post-game Butler said the Patriots "gave up on me".
And, in a statement posted on Twitter and Instagram, Butler wrote: "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 teams' chances of winning a game, including this year's Super Bowl, where I visited with my family every night."
"During Super Bowl week I never attended any concert, missed curfew or participated [in] any of the ridiculous activities being reported. 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."
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady commented on the post on Instagram, writing: "Love you Malcolm. You are an incredible player and team-mate and friend. Always!!!!!!"
Butler was the hero of the Patriots' victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, intercepting a Russell Wilson pass on the goalline to seal the triumph.
A reported trade target of the New Orleans Saints in the last offseason, Butler will be a free agent next month.