Malcolm Butler‘s name dominated the sports headlines on Monday following his game-winning interception during the Super Bowl. The New England Patriots cornerback has an underdog story that fans and journalists alike are cheering.
Butler, 24, is being complimented as the “unlikely hero” of Super Bowl XLIX by multiple outlets including ESPN, The Boston Globe and Fox Sports. His name was a worldwide Twitter trend on Monday morning as Twitter users praised his ability to read the Seattle Seahawks play and act quickly.
During the final moments of the Super Bowl, Butler (No. 21) jumped the route and grabbed the ball intended for Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette. The difficult and impressive play sealed a win for the Patriots.
Tom Brady celebrated the play while Richard Sherman looked sad and defeated:
The cornerback was elated and emotional following the game.
Butler had seen the route during practice, and when he saw the “stacked” receiver formation, his instincts took over. “I felt like if we would have lost the game, it would have been my fault even though I gave them my best effort,” Butler told CBS This Morning on Monday. He said he woke up today asking himself, ” ‘Was this real? Is this real?’ “
According to ESPN, Butler wasn’t even on the Patriots original championship game plan. He was put into the game to replace Kyle Arrington.
Butler joined the Patriots last May. Undrafted, he tried out after playing at the University of West Alabama. He played football for only two seasons in high school in Mississippi and was kicked out of Hinds Community college as a freshman, working at Popeye’s part-time until he was invited back, eventually transferring to West Alabama.
“It’s been a long road to get here,” Butler told the Providence Journal in August. “Some ups, some downs, but I never gave up.”
This attitude kept Butler going during the Super Bowl after Seahawks receiver Jermaine Kearse made an unbelievable, juggling catch while Butler was covering him. Butler was devastated, thinking he had lost the game for the Patriots.
Of course, seconds later, just the opposite proved to be true.
“Unbelievable play by Malcolm,” said Tom Brady. “We didn’t call a timeout, and the clock was winding down and we realized, you know, this is basically it, if we stop them. I saw the interception and couldn’t believe it. It was just an incredible play. You know, what a play. A championship play.”