February 23, 2015
AT Super Bowl XLIX (49), the game’s fate turned on dime when the ball ended up in the hands of a player nobody ever heard of before the game started. One of the most beautiful moments in team sports is when the player that was once the goat can make a redeeming play that wins the game. It’s sports movie material that is no fan can resist. That player is Malcom Butler, the New England Patriot cornerback who intercepted the pass in the end zone that broke the hearts of the Seattle Seahawks and their legion of fans and delivered the thrill of victory to Patriot Nation. Victory was snatched in a fleeting moment from Seattle but in turn carried one man into the sports history books.
If you don’t know the story by now, Butler was involved in the two biggest plays of the game. With the Patriots leading by four points, under a minute to play and the Seattle making a final drive, Butler was matched up with wide receiver Jermaine Kearse. Russell Wilson threw a 33-yard pass to Kearse that Butler deflected. However, as Kearse fell to the ground, the tipped pass landed on him, he juggled it and eventually retained possession. Kearse’s catch is widely considered as one of the best of all time in Super Bowl history. After recognizing Kearse had made the catch and was not down by contact, Butler pushed him out of bounds at the five-yard line.
Two plays later, with 20 seconds remaining and the Seahawks on the Patriots’ one-yard line, Butler intercepted a Wilson pass at the goal line, returning possession to Patriots and virtually assuring their 28-24 victory.
One of five children raised by his mother in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Butler started his college football career at nearby Hinds Community College, where he had a hard time getting started. He eventually transferred to West Alabama where he had a good career while achieving conference honors. He didn’t get much of a look by the pro scouts but did get seen by one NFL coach who remembered him.
New England took a chance on him and Butler was able to make the most of his situation. He only started one game for the Patriots but kept improving throughout the year and team kept their confidence in his abilities.
Butler is a very quiet and nice young man whom is very emotional about his good fortune in the Super Bowl. I know Tom Brady was because he gave his MVP Car Award to Butler. Butler is now the toast of the town, but it is obvious he will never forget the tough road it took to get there.