Malcolm Terel Butler (born March 2, 1990) is an American football cornerback for the New England Patriots of the National Football League (NFL). Butler received recognition for his interception during Super Bowl XLIX at the goal line with 18 seconds left, preventing a touchdown and maintaining New England's 28-24 lead, which led to a victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
Butler was an undrafted free agent who played collegiate football at the University of West Alabama. During his senior year in 2013, Butler broke up 18 passes and had two interceptions and was named first team All-Gulf South Conference at cornerback.
Butler was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and has four siblings. He graduated from Vicksburg High School in 2009. As a a senior, he averaged five tackles per game. Despite only playing football in his freshman and senior years at the high school, Butler earned a scholarship to Hinds Community College in Raymond, Mississippi. Butler also participated in track & field at Vicksburg, where he competed in sprints and jumps. He had personal-bests of 12.07 seconds in the 100-meter dash, 1.83 meters (6'0") in the high jump, and 6.92 meters (22'8.5") in the long jump.
In his 2009 freshman year at Hinds Community College, Butler recorded 22 tackles and one interception, but was kicked off the team after the fifth game of the season. He transferred to Alcorn State University before being invited back to Hinds Community College in 2011, and as a sophomore recorded 43 tackles, three interceptions, and 12 broken-up passes.
In 2012, Butler enrolled at the University of West Alabama, majoring in physical education. He started all 12 games that fall for the Division II Tigers. Butler finished the 2012 season with 49 tackles, 43 solo, five interceptions (including three in one game against West Georgia), and averaged a team-leading 29.8 yards per kickoff return. In 2013 he was named a Beyond Sports Network All-American after recording 45 tackles, two interceptions, and one blocked field goal, and averaging 27.9 yards on kickoff returns during the season.
On May 19, 2014, Butler signed with the New England Patriots after going undrafted in the 2014 NFL Draft. In his rookie season, Malcolm Butler appeared in 11 games with 1 start, recording 15 tackles, and 3 passes defended. He made his first start at cornerback against Miami on December 14, finishing with two tackles after beginning the season as the fifth string cornerback on the Patriots depth chart.
With under a minute left in the fourth quarter Butler was matched up with Jermaine Kearse. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw a 33-yard sideline pass to Kearse that Butler deflected. As Kearse fell to the ground, the tipped pass landed on him, he juggled it and eventually retained possession. Kearse's catch was widely reported as one of the greatest in Super Bowl history. After recognizing that 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 an attempted pass to Ricardo Lockette at the goal line, returning possession to the Patriots and maintaining their 28-24 lead. Butler said that he had guessed correctly that Wilson would throw to Lockette, having read the Seahawks two receiver stack formation. "From preparation, I remembered the formation they were in ... I just beat him to the route and made the play." Butler gave credit to Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia for preparing players well for the game. The interception was the first of Butler's NFL career. It was the only interception of a pass attempt from the 1-yard line during the 2014 NFL season, of the 109 attempts.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who received a 2015 Chevrolet Colorado as part of his Super Bowl XLIX MVP Award, said he planned to give the truck to Butler. At the request of Tom Brady, Chevrolet awarded the truck directly to Butler.
Following the departures of Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, and Kyle Arrington, Butler was promoted to the starting cornerback during the 2015 season. During Week 2, against the Buffalo Bills, Butler caught his first regular season interception and returned it to the Bills 30-yard line before being tackled. On November 15 Butler was matched up against New York Giants' Odell Beckham Jr., who was only able to complete 4 of 12 catches. Butler also made a strip of Beckham in the end zone when it looked like Beckham had secured possession of the football for a touchdown. The touchdown, which would have given the Giants a 30-24 lead with 1:45 to play, was nullified by the officials and helped the Patriots hold the Giants to a field goal, after which New England kicked a 52-yarder of their own to win with :01 second remaining. The next week, Butler held Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins to 39 yards on three catches.