Belichick predictably refused to provide detail. Butler surprisingly gave no legitimate reasoning for the move after he transferred to Tennessee. Former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia let zero cats out of the bag after driving to Detroit. Teammates have offered speculation and little else.
We got further proof Monday about how tight-lipped the Patriots have been about Butler's benching: Tom Brady, the highest-ranking member of the organization not named Kraft or Belichick, doesn't have a good reason to share.
"Well, I don't make those decisions. I wish he would've played, but the coach didn't play him and we still had a chance to win," Brady said at the Milken Institute Global Conference, via Kevin Duffy of MassLive.com.
Sure, you still almost won, Tom, but a quarter of an inch the other way and you would have missed completely, right?
Butler's benching was kept so far under wraps, Brady said he wasn't even aware until after the Super Bowl loss.
"I'll say this: For a team, this side of the room is the offense and this side is the defense," Brady said. "We don't interfere with them much. I didn't know. Malcolm kept coming over to me during the game and was like 'Come on, TB, let's go!' And I kept going, 'What defense are we in where Malcolm's not on the field?' Is it short-yardage, goal line? And then after the game, I found out. So I just didn't know. And I asked Malcolm and Malcolm said, 'I don't know. Coach has just decided something different.' I said, 'OK.' So I don't know what was a part of that decision-making, but I know we were trying to win the game. I don't think we were trying to do anything but win.
"It's unfortunate we lost, but give the Eagles a great deal of credit. They deserved it, and we'll be back next year trying to kick their butt."
Brady said he hasn't "gone and discussed" why the Patriots benched the cornerback who had played the most snaps during the season in the biggest game of the year. TB12 also noted that's not something he would normally ask about.
"Well, I don't know," Brady said. "That's probably a better question for the guy who owns our team. I think, for me, you don't make all the decisions. I can control what I can control. So much of what it's been over the years has been, 'How do I maximize what I can do?' I can't run, I can't catch, I can't block, I can't tackle. I can do my job and I'm going to do it the best way I can. I've got to trust everyone else to do the same thing. Sometimes it works out, and for our team it's worked out better than every other team for a long time, so how do you nitpick one or two things? Everyone is trying, in my belief, to do the best thing. It doesn't always work out. I love that particular player -- Malcolm. I have a great relationship and history with him. And he's moved on with his life, he's on a different team."
Just because he won't ask why the decision was made doesn't mean Brady and others aren't peeved the Patriots benched a starting cornerback with the Lombardi Trophy on the line while Nick Foles threw for 373 yards.