Following his emotional retirement ceremony, Devin McCourty stood on stage and fielded a few questions from reporters for about 10-15 minutes on Tuesday.
Q: How did the reality of what you turned out to be and your career turned out to be differ from what the fantasies were?
A: Yeah, um…I was very fortunate having a twin brother, our dreams were always together. First, it was to be in the NBA and then my high school coach used to tell me ‘you guys are little, you’ll never make it in the NBA,’ but as a kid dreaming of being a professional athlete, I never dreamed in detail of what that would look like. I just wanted to be here. As I went through the process, honestly, a lot of times I thought if I could just be a special teams player in that league, that’d be alright by me. Rutgers was not a powerhouse when I went there and to think I had to red shirt…J-Mac will tell you – and I’ve got my good friend Kevin here from college – I thought I would be all of their agent. I was like man, I’m gonna be an agent and I’ll rep you guys and I’ll make money that way. So, you asked me what the reality was to the dream…the reality far surpassed the dream. I never thought I’d be able to have an impact on a team and lead a team and be a captain. The first time I was a captain was my red shirt senior year at Rutgers. I wasn’t a captain in all my years of high school, Pop Warner, I was never a captain, probably because – like Coach (Belichick) talked about – I was probably a little too honest some times. But, it all played out perfectly. I’m very grateful for my career and I’m very happy. I think it’s worked out the way it was supposed to.”
Q: Is there one moment in particular that kind of ranks amongst the top for you in your career here in New England over 13 years?
A: “Obviously, the three Super Bowl wins. I think if I had to like date back to all of them…I think the first one (2014) was very special because I still remember Matty P, we were in the cafeteria one time talking and he was like ‘they pass it the trophy through. Everyone lines up and you look at it,’ and like, I could see…if you know Matty P, he’s always cursing us out and I could see like, the joy on his face like re-living that moment. So, when we won the first one and being in that line, I remembered him saying that. I remember hugging Vince (Wilfork) on the field. 2016, when we won that one against Atlanta, obviously it was the comeback, but that team was just really cool. That team, the environment, we had guys like Chris Long who had just come that year who had been through a bunch of stuff in his career. Accolades, he was like a big A-hole on the team with Ninko (Rob Ninkovich) and that team just bonded really well. At halftime it wasn’t about like coming back to win as much as it was…like I’m gonna keep fighting. I saw today High (Dont’a Hightower) said in his Player’s Tribune article he didn’t have a kid yet, but he knew he would tell his kids someday that ‘at halftime I decided I was just going to keep fighting,’ and I felt like a lot of that was on that team. Everybody understood everybody’s why. We spent a lot of time together laughing and joking, offense, defense, D-line, DB’s. Then, obviously, the last one in 2018, playing with my brother. I think coming off 17 where we played so poorly as a defense. Our offense set records but we couldn’t get stops. To come back the next year with a defense that throughout the year isn’t seen as special or really a team, so to come back and be that team with three special moments for those reasons, the journey of it more than just actually hoisting the Lombardi.”
Q: Congratulations and on behalf of New England thank you for the last 13 years. Are you definitely going into television or are you absolutely going into television?
A: “Well, I need a job, so I need someone to hire me first. If you know anybody hiring I would like to say I’m definitely going in, as long as I’m going to get hired. But no, I’m very excited about what’s next. This offseason was probably the first one where I enjoyed watching football. Like, whenever we would lose in the playoffs and I would watch the game I’d be like ‘man, we’re better than that team,’ like, we should be…I had so much built up anger watching the games. I would sit with (Jason) sometimes who for the majority of his career had no shot to make the playoffs and I would see him like truly enjoying the game and sometimes I’d be like ‘man, it must be nice to suck, you enjoy football,’ but this offseason was the first time where I really started to get the feeling of like, alright, something’s wrong with you. This might be it, you might need to transition to getting paid for watching football instead of playing, because I never had those things. I wanted to be that guy in those games. I wanted to be that team…like when we won the AFC championship at Kansas City and the fans were throwing beers at us, I wanted to be those guys. When I started watching, looking at the other teams being like ‘man, that’s cool to see them do that,’ that’s kind of when I had a feeling that this was probably it.”
Q: Hey Devin, would you like to say anything…it’s a perfect opportunity right now to the fans that watched you all these years play in a Patriots uniform?
A: Yeah, I’m very grateful of the fans. I think New England has a great fan base because the fan base because the fan base doesn’t hold back. When I played bad, I got the ‘I hope you tear your ACL’s, I hope you get cut,’ I got all of that. But, when you did well, the fans told you about it. I think most importantly for me, when I think about the fans I don’t just think about my play. I think about being in the community and fans not just being fans because they watched me on TV, but fans being fans because they got to be around me at events or do things with me. Now, I look back and I can truly say I’ve enjoyed every moment here the good and the bad because there was always fans. There’s some teams you go to games and three’s not many fans or the stadium’s not filled. There’s not like this rush to be a part of it. We’ve been to those parades. There’s young people I meet now that talk about how many days they got to skip school to go to parades throughout Boston for all the sports teams. They live by that. I think this is a very unique place because when you play sports, they don’t really care as much about the entertainers and other famous people. If you played a sport for Boston sports, like you are one of a kind. They love you. I think one of the coolest things about being an athlete is the fans never go away. Now, I get to be a part of the community. I get to come back to games and be in the stands and tailgate and do all those things. I’m excited to not really say goodbye to the fans, but to be able to embrace the fans as a fan. Now we’ll be equals. I’ll have a little knowledge from playing, but we’ll get to be like those crazy guys. If Mac throws an interception I’ll be cursing Mac out on the field. If (Bentley) misses a tackle I’ll be cursing Bent out. That’s what it’s going to be because now I’m just a fan, I’m not their teammate anymore. I’m a fan, so that means they have to play a perfect game. Like, Mac has to have four touchdowns every game and 350 yards. That’s the expectation as a fan. I’m looking forward to Bentley’s 150 tackles, five interceptions, three sacks and you know, maybe two touchdowns. That’s what I need from him. He’s probably going to be mad that I said it, but I’m a fan now. I’m excited to be a crazy New England Patriot fan because I’m going to give it all I’ve got.”
Q: Devin, making the safe assumption that someone does hire you in television, what do you force in the bigger picture for your future? And, given the impact you’ve made here locally, when you do come back as a fan to sit in the stands, do you also foresee continuing to have a presence in the community?
A: Yeah. So, I’m on the board at BMC I plan on keeping that. Robin is back there shaking her head hard because if it was up to her she’d go find the house I’m moving into in Boston right now. But, yeah, I plan to always be around this community and bigger picture, I’m very excited for like the first time Bill calls a bad call and I’m on TV and I’m just like “I don’t know what he was thinking!’ like, I’m excited for the first time that happens. Or me to be like, ‘I know Billy O and Steve (Belichick) I don’t know what they’re calling in this game,’ so, that’s the first thing I’m looking forward to doing on TV, but ultimately I’m looking forward to having an impact and seeing what that impact looks like. I’d be lying if I told you coming into my career here that I would’ve told you how I wanted to impact the New England community. I had no idea. I knew I wanted to be involved. I knew I wanted to do different things. That’s what I let lead me. My passion. I plan on doing that the same way of hopefully getting into the TV role and learning the different things I can do with that platform like I did with this platform. The greatest thing we can all do as people is just use the platform we have. Everyone’s platform is different and you can use it in different ways that you’re passionate about, but you should use it. That’s my plan, to figure out how I can use it and then figure it out and then take it a little bit more than people think that you should do, just to push the envelope a little bit more, put a little risk into it. I’m excited about the future, which, when I entered football, I didn’t think that you could be excited about life after football. It always seemed like this was the pinnacle, getting to play and do something you dreamed about your whole life. It seemed like how could you ever do something else that could fill that void? I don’t know if it will fill the void, but I do know that I’m standing here very excited to see what I can do next and how I can have an impact and how I can inspire my family and continue to lead them.”
Q: Hey Devin, congratulations on your retirement. So, quick question about the team’s leadership you just mentioned during your remarks. What’s your message to the next generation of leaders on this team? Some of them are sitting right here.
A: Yeah, no special message. Those guys know. I’ve had the opportunity to sit with a bunch of these guys that are going to probably be captains again next year and have sat in the captains meetings. I think the greatest thing you can do as a leader is just be yourself. They all know that. I’ve said that to all of these guys multiple times, just be yourself. I think the greatest message I could have ever have left them is the way I carried myself and conducted myself throughout my time. I know all of these guys, when they wear that Patriots uniform they understand the same thing I did when I got here. You represent a group of guys that were before you that put a lot of time and effort into building something. The good and the bad of being a Patriot is like, you get linked to every Super Bowl won by the franchise. So, there’s not many of the guys left that have won Super Bowls, there’s a couple guys still there. I remember coming here and being linked to the three Super Bowls I had nothing to do with. I always said that, ‘don’t link me to that, we didn’t do that,’ but it’s also a credit to those guys and what they did, that that’s now the expectation. It’s a hard expectation. It’s not easy winning in this league, but I think when I look at the team, the leadership they have, it’s a bunch of guys that not only have seen things in this league, but I think the biggest thing about being a leader is you carry all life experiences with you. All of these guys have been in tough situations, they’ve had to battle for what they have in this league or what they’ve had in college or high school. They’ll wear that on their sleeve. I think them and this coaching staff is pushing to be great. I got to experience that over the last few years when TB left and continuing the things he taught me with him, Logan Mankins, Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, (Slater’s) like in-between because he’s a little older than me, so he kind of fits into that older group too. But, what I learned from those guys I tried to pass down to these guys. I think they’ll do a great job. This team is battle tested. They’ve been through good, they’ve been through bad and I think the biggest thing is they want to win and they want to win together. I’m excited to watch the team and like I said, cheer them on.”