New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick provided a little more clarity Monday on why Super Bowl XLIX hero Malcolm Butler was on the field for just one play in Sunday's 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Belichick held his final conference call with the media on Monday morning, and most of the questions centered around Butler. His initial answer echoed what he first said after the game on Sunday night.
"I respect Malcolm's competitiveness, and I'm sure he felt he could've helped. I'm sure other players felt the same way," he said. "In the end, we have to make the decisions we feel are best for the football team. That's what I did. That's really all I can say about it."
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Asked if he thought about putting Butler in at any point, he replied, "I just covered that."
Later, when asked why cornerback Johnson Bademosi was the best choice in three cornerback situations on Sunday night, Belichick finally appeared to shed some light on at least one reason for Butler's benching.
"He practiced it the most," the coach said of Bademosi.
Butler was sick with the flu for much of last week, and arrived in Minneapolis a day after his teammates so he could rest. He was limited in practice, but told ESPN on Thursday that he was "good to go," despite having made two trips to the hospital.
Butler was visibly upset by the lack of playing time after the game Sunday. "They gave up on me," he told ESPN's Mike Reiss. "(Expletive). It is what it is." He is an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
Belichick was also asked Monday about Rob Gronkowski's comments Sunday about reevaluating whether he wants to keep playing.
"At the end of every season, every person goes through somewhat of a process," he said. "You get pretty drained, especially after a season like this, and then you go through the end of the year process and then the following year's the following year. It's the same for everybody, and I certainly can't speak for anybody else. I will say, five minutes after the game is not really the best time to make those decisions."
Belichick was also asked if he'll be back coaching the Patriots next season. He didn't answer, saying he's already addressed that question.
"I don't have to answer the same question every day. That's ridiculous," he said.
Belichick also didn't have much to say about whether offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will be staying with the Patriots or leaving to coach another team.
"I have no idea," he said. "You'd have to talk to those teams that are involved with head coaching positions or people that are involved with those teams."