Undrafted rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler is now a household name, as his fourth quarter interception sealed the Patriots' come from behind victory over the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. Last year at this time, he was just a couple of months removed from his final season at the little-known University of West Alabama. Today, he's getting ready to lead Boston's Ninth Duck Boat Championship Parade in the last 14 years.
Butler only played two seasons of high school football, and first went to Hinds Community College in his home state of Mississippi. But he was kicked out of school during his freshman year after he was arrested for drug possession, and took a job at Popeye's the next year. Butler transferred to Division II West Alabama in 2012.
The Patriots signed Butler in May, and he started one game for the Pats this season.
He was inserted in this year’s Super Bowl in the third quarter when the Patriots' coaching staff inserted Butler into the game for Kyle Arrington. The nickelback was having trouble matching the size and length of 6-foot-5, 218-pound receiver Chris Matthews on vertical routes. In turning to the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Butler as their fifth defensive back they entrusted a player teammates called "Scrap," because he was always scrappy.
In the locker room shortly after the game the Patriot’s publicist came up to Butler and said, “Malcolm, you need to be prepared because this game will change your life forever.”
Almost immediately Patriot owner Bob Kraft came up to Butler with the Lombardi trophy cradled in his arm. He said, “Malcolm would you mind posing for a picture with me?”
Just before the incredible interception Butler was covering Seahawk’s wide receiver Jermaine Kearse when Kearse made an on-his-back, juggling, 33-yard catch down the right sideline that advanced the ball to the 5-yard line. At that point Butler thought he was the goat of the game, in spite of making a great play on the ball and batting it in the air. The ball came to land in Kearse’s hands.
As he was growing up Butler’s mother had to work two jobs to support her family. With his $420,000 annual salary and with the opportunities he will now have to leverage his fame into financial security, I hope he buys his mom a new home, a new car and a new wardrobe.
And I hope and pray that his shy, humble kid born in raised in rural Mississippi becomes a role model for all the black kids in his state and everywhere who deserve a good break in life.