Malcolm Butler will be forever known as one of the greatest surprise heroes in Super Bowl history. As a rookie cornerback for the Patriots, he intercepted Russell Wilson on a dazzling defensive play at the goal line to seal a thrilling 28-24 victory over the Seahawks in Super Bowl 49.
With the Super Bowl in Arizona for the first time in eight years, Butler also came back, speaking to The Sporting News on behalf of Hydroxycut ahead of another exciting matchup between top seeds as the Chiefs and Eagles meet in State Farm Stadium.
“When I see the stadium, it takes me all the way back,” Butler said. “Being a rookie at the table on media day, nobody talked to me. On the bus ride to the Super Bowl, I was just amazed about the whole situation. It made me think about the little things that I had forgotten.”
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Well before his game-winning interception with 26 seconds left, Butler didn’t know whether he would have an opportunity to have a moment like that — until he stepped on the field.
“When I got into the game, you could see flashes of it, flying all around the field. I made multiple plays before that play. including hitting Marshawn Lynch,” Butler said. “Everybody’s heard how I went over the play in practice and I didn’t execute the play right in practice. But when I got into the game I saw (Russell) Wilson peeking and I took a guess.
“I felt it in my gut. I said the F-word, and I was gone. I just went to the ball. The hardest thing about the play was just catching the ball. If I drop it, they’re running the ball on the next play.”
Although much of the talk about the play is about blaming the Seahawks for not running with Lynch and instead having Wilson pass short inside to wide receiver Ricardo Lockette, Butler and the Patriots’ coaching staff deserve more credit for the preparation that led to the execution.
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“Ernie (Adams), who worked for the Patriots (football research), was a key Bill Belichick guy. They went over everything. I don’t know how that play came up at practice — the Seahawks probably ran that play three times throughout the season,” Butler said. “I think it was going to be a run before we loaded the box, and then Wilson got some kind of check and sent the signal for a pick play.”
Butler also admits that his interception wouldn’t have happened had Lockett done something different.
“If the wide receiver had went a little harder, it would have just been a pass breakup,” Butler said. “But I beat him to the ball.”
For being such an iconic play in Super Bowl history, Butler’s interception hasn’t been attached to a universal nickame that’s stuck, like “The Helmet Catch” has. “Butler Did It” has been suggested. So has “Pick Around the World.” Butler just called it for what it was.
“I would just name it ‘Who Wants the Ball?'” he said.
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Butler is now 32. He last played in the NFL during the 2020 season for his second team, the Titans. He came out of retirement to sign with the Patriots last offseason but was released in August. Butler still appreciates the role the play had in launching a successful pro career in which he made one Pro Bowl and earned a second-team All-Pro selection.
“The play got me more attention. It definitely changed my life. It made me a wealthy man. I probably made more money off the field than I was getting as a rookie,” he said. “I wasn’t going let that play define my career. I made the Pro Bowl. I won another Super Bowl.
“I had a solid career coming from where I did, working at Popeye’s, playing at West Alabama, trying out with 40 people when they chose only two, making training camp, making plays throughout as a rookie.”
Butler started using Hydroxycut well before he partnered with the company. The product was a part of him staying in shape while he was playing. For many NFL players, it has helped them get fit for that last-minute push ahead of training camp.
“It’s keeping my body right, keeping me in shape and giving me a lot of energy.” Butler said. “They’ve been doing this for 25 years — they’ve got the gummies, they’ve got the capsules. I go hard in the gym by myself. When I use this product, I go even harder. It gives me energy for training, time with kids, everything.”