New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty told NJ Advance Media he's heard the theories of the benching being disciplinary, but claims they're false. McCourty said he knew Butler wouldn't be starting.
"As far as I know, all of that is the furthest thing from the truth," McCourty said. "We all knew he wasn't starting all week. That wasn't a secret to the guys on the team.
"I get why people are fishing. The guy played 98 percent of the plays. I just hate that for him character-wise going into free agency. It's just not true. As far as I know -- and I was there all week -- not one time did anything come up."
Not starting Butler and not playing a defender who earned 97.8 percent of the snaps during the season are two slightly different things. The player comments in the immediate aftermath of the Super Bowl loss certainly didn't indicate teammates were aware of a plan in which Butler would be anchored to the sideline the entire game in advance. Perhaps McCourty was provided more information than the rest of his teammates because he is a defensive captain.
"It sucked for him," McCourty said of Butler. "He put a lot of time and effort in. However it falls, the last thing you want to do is not play a snap. To me, the worst part was to see all that [anonymous] stuff come out after."
Butler will head to free agency almost certain to leave the team he believes gave up on him.