Tom Brady may have been named Super Bowl XLIX MVP, but Malcolm Butler made the biggest play of the game. The undrafted rookie cornerback picked off Russell Wilson’s potential game-winning throw in the final seconds Sunday, preserving a tooth-and-nail 28-24 win.
Butler recognized Seattle’s formation and jumped the route, leaving Seattle’s Ricardo Lockette on the wrong side of a one-on-one battle that was, well, pretty one-sided.
“I just got my confidence together, and I said, ‘I’m going to gamble. We need it,’” Butler said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “And I just jumped the route. I beat him to the point of the ball and just made a great play.”
If you don’t know much about Butler, his story is worth learning. The Vicksburg, Miss., native didn’t receive a single Division I college scholarship offer, attended Hinds Community College in Raymond, Miss., was kicked off the team as a freshman, was invited back a few years later and transferred to West Alabama in 2012. Butler went undrafted in 2014, having received virtually no recognition, attention or interest from anyone.
And now? Now he’s given New England its fourth Super Bowl title in 14 years.
Does Butler realize how improbable that interception really was? Has it hit him?
“If you take away the play that I made Sunday, it already hit me once I made the New England Patriots’ roster,” said Butler, who signed in May. “All that hit me. But that play I made Sunday, that ain’t hit me until I woke up (Tuesday) morning. I just put myself in the stands with everybody believing that we were going to lose, and I come through and change everybody’s feeling and made everyone happy. That’s a crazy feeling. If I was in the stands, I would be proud of whoever made the play, so it’s crazy. It’s a blessing.”
Butler, it is worth noting, made a game-saving tackle two plays earlier, corralling Jermaine Kearse after a scintillating 33-yard reception. Kearse was on the ground but had not been touched, so Butler made sure he didn’t get into the end zone.
“The Patriots coach fundamental football,” Butler said. “Touch that guy. Get him down. He can get up and score. He’s not down until you touch him. So I had to make sure I get him down when I see him catch the ball. I knew he could get up and run. That’s just basic football you need to know.”
And the Patriots know it. They know all of it.
“From the kicking game, special teams, offense, defense, preparation – there’s not to many things this organization is not going to cover that you need to know,” Butler said.
While Butler wasn’t named MVP, he may receive the MVP’s prize; Brady has said he would like to give Butler the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck that he was given for winning the award. Brady hasn’t told Butler anything directly just yet, but Butler believes Brady will honor his word.
“I haven’t got them yet,” Butler said of the car keys, chuckling. “I heard the word about it, but I haven’t got them yet. I’ll be waiting, though.”