FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn't budge Wednesday morning when pressed on why he didn't play Malcolm Butler in Super Bowl LII, saying he was only focused on the start of 2018 training camp.
While Belichick was locked in on the new season, Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy attempted to engage him on Butler in the following exchange:
Shaughnessy: Bill, I know you're all about this year, but I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't ask about last year.
Belichick: Last year is last year. I'm not focused on that.
Shaughnessy: What about the fact that everywhere we go, folks want to ask about Malcolm Butler. Sports. Coaches. Players ... You're a sports fan.
Belichick: We've talked about that multiple months ago.
Shaughnessy: Is there going to be any more explanation about why he didn't play?
Belichick: I'm focused on training camp.
Shaughnessy: Would you do it any differently?
Belichick: Training camp? We're going to start and work on that right now. We're going to do the best we can.
Shaughnessy: Does it matter to you, do you care, that the fans want to know more about this?
Belichick: I'm focused on doing the best I can for the 2018 New England Patriots. That's my job, that's what I'm going to do. That's what I've always done in the past, every day that I've coached here, I've done the best I can for this football team and I'll continue to do that. Right now, my focus is on the 2018 season. Not 2017. Not 2014. Not 2007. Not 2004. Not 2001. Not 2000. I'm not focused on any of those seasons. They're done.
Shaughnessy: For this season's team, is it important for you to address the Malcolm Butler thing with your team?
Belichick: It's important for me to have a good season in 2018. I'm going to do everything I can to do that, to do the best I can for our football team. That's my job, that's my responsibility, and that's what I am going to try to do. Hopefully you can respect that, but maybe not.
Shaughnessy: Thank you.
On the night of Super Bowl LII, Belichick was asked about not playing Butler on defense. He said then that he put the players on the field and the game plan together, and that he believed he gave the team the best chance to win, but he did not elaborate further.
He was also asked to explain the decision the day after the Super Bowl, and then again at the NFL's annual meetings in March. He similarly deflected each time.
Butler has since moved on, signing a free-agent contract with the Tennessee Titans. In his introductory news conference in Tennessee, Butler had addressed the Super Bowl by saying, "It's just all a coaching decision and I have never questioned anything Bill Belichick makes his decision on. Like I said, he benched a four-year vet [Kyle Arrington] for a rookie [in Super Bowl XLIX against Seattle]. That turned out right. I am just very grateful and thankful for the opportunity the New England Patriots gave me."
Butler also added that he wasn't "locked in and focused 100 percent."
"I wasn't feeling too well. I felt like that was kind of part of it. Not to blame anybody. I accept full responsibility for myself. I am not blaming the New England Patriots or no one. It could have been just me, it could have been anything, but I was not feeling too well, and the New England Patriots are all about doing their job and they want everybody locked in and focused 100 percent, and that probably was not the case."