The Patriots are making their 7th Super Bowl appearance in since 2001 on Sunday. I know you’ve heard it already, I just like saying it. The last one was just 2 years ago, and it sure does seem like it was just yesterday. Not everyone on this team was in that game, but there’s a good amount. Most notably Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, Dont’a Hightower, Devin McCourty, and of course… Malcolm Butler.
It’s been a crazy journey since that day for Malcolm Butler. Now he’s a top 5 cornerback in the league, after being a nobody at this time 2 years ago. I’m just wondering, how? How did Malcolm Butler become a top 5 corner in the NFL? You could just use all the cliches people spout and say ‘hard work’ and ‘dedication’ and you wouldn’t be wrong, but it’s all so peculiar. We’re talking about a guy who went undrafted at one of the most important positions in football. We’re talking about a guy who went unrecruited by any somewhat good college and attended the University of West Alabama.
Today, Malcolm Butler is a beast. Last week he was incredible against Antonio Brown, shutting him down and holding him to a measly 77 yards, and that’s counting the garbage time yards. He’s made game winning players like last year against the Giants when matched up against Odell Beckham Jr, and he swatted the ball way in the end zone just before Beckham could get 2 feet down. He’s a great tackler, very disciplined on deciding when to jump a route and when not to, and has some of the best ball skills in the league. But, How?
How did Malcolm Butler become a top 5 cornerback in the NFL? And would it have happened if not for that moment in Super Bowl XLIX? You know the moment I’m talking about right? That moment when Pete Carroll told Russell Wilson to throw, and then Butler was told to “go!”, and Browner got right in his ear and told him exactly what to do, you know the moment right after that? The moment when the ball was thrown and “The pass is intercepted! Intercepted by Malcolm Butler. Butler has it at the 1! Malcolm Butler! Stepped in front of the throw!”. I love that moment.
I’m serious, do you think that Malcolm Butler becomes the player he is today without that play? Because I don’t. I don’t know if it’s magic or what but if Malcolm Butler doesn’t make that play he’s just another guy. He might be good, but I don’t think he’s any better than Logan Ryan. Something happened that day in Arizona for Malcolm Butler he went from being “Malcolm Butler: Last cornerback on the roster” to “Malcolm Butler: Future Patriots legend”
Butler was a guy we all loved after that Super Bowl, but becoming the player he has makes it so much cooler. It would have sucked if Malcolm Butler just faded away and we never heard from him again. I remember after the Super Bowl thinking how cool it would be if he actually became good, and he has, but I don’t understand how it’s possible. An undrafted rookie who almost nobody had ever heard of makes the most important play in the Super Bowl and then becomes one of the best players on the team? I’m telling you it’s magic because that sounds impossible.
Without Malcolm Butler we don’t win that game, and we aren’t here today trying to win Tom Brady and Bill Belichick their 5th Super Bowl. Malcolm Butler’s story is may be one of hard work and dedication, but there’s something else. I couldn’t tell you what it is, but it’s something magical. To go from being a guy who no one knew headed into the Super Bowl, to being one of the best players at your position coming out of it isn’t normal. Is it magic, I don’t know. That’s the only thing I could come up with. Maybe we have someone who can magically turn undrafted corners into bonafide superstars, and 6th round quarterbacks into NFL legends, and 7th round quarterbacks into great slot wide receivers… wait… oh. Bill Belichick.
Nevertheless, this is about Malcolm Butler. So thank you Malcolm, for everything. The Patriots better sign this guy to a long term deal this offseason. Butler has been the perfect Patriot. He hasn’t complained about his contract, he does whatever the coaching staff asks him to do, and is clearly dedicated to his craft. I don’t know how we got so lucky to have gotten 3 guys like Butler, Edelman, and the king of all late round steals, Brady. Butler has a long way to go to be remembered as one of the great Patriots ever, but he’s well on his way. Malcolm Butler will forever be remembered for that play, but what he’s become since will be the true story of a legend.
Photo Credit: (Patriots.com)