New England Patriots: Malcolm Butler Benched Three Weeks For Tardiness


According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler has been held out of New England Patriots OTA’s for the last three weeks because he missed a flight on May 25th, which caused him to be late for the first session.

"Butler was late for the first practice of organized team activities May 26 because he missed a flight on the way to Boston due to weather issues, and he was held off the practice field for nearly three weeks, according to a team source. Butler attempted to fly into Boston the day before OTAs, but the weather-related issues pushed his arrival into the next day.The team source said Butler was very disappointed to be held out of practice, but he treated it as a lesson learned and has brought the right attitude to Gillette on a daily basis."

Now, I love Bill Belichick, and I firmly believe he is the best coach of all time, but this seems a little excessive. Three weeks off the practice field for being late? That just hurts Butler’s development, even though he has still been in film sessions, and meetings throughout OTA’s. Butler is a good player with a lot of potential, and making him stay off the practice field for three weeks just seems counter-productive.

There has also been some speculation that the Pats might get in trouble for this punishment, and while that is certainly possible, I don’t think it will happen. New England is required to allow players to participate in “voluntary” team activities, and letting Butler work out at Gillette, go to meetings, and go to film sessions will probably count as letting them “participate.” However there are a lot of rules laid out in the CBA, and the NFLPA may very well try to prove the Patriots did something wrong here (what else is new). So you better stay tuned to this situation.

The bottom line here: getting to practice on time is obviously important, and I applaud Belichick for being a stickler and punishing players that are tardy, but three weeks is excessive, especially for a young player like Butler. This kid can be really good, but he needs time on the practice field to develop.