Boston Herald

Patriots honor McCourty with family-style send-off

'Devin's superpower was his durability'

- By Andrew Callahan acallahan@bostonhera­

FOXBORO >> In his opening remarks, Patriots owner Robert Kraft skipped the man of the hour and turned to his brother.

Standing before a few hundred seated attendees, Kraft thanked Jason McCourty for his pass deflection that saved a touchdown in Super Bowl LIII. Never mind Devin, the newly retired 13-year veteran sitting to Kraft’s right, whose presence Tuesday had gathered former teammates and coaches, friends and media on the third floor of the Patriots Hall of Fame.

Then, Kraft called on Dr. Michelle McCourty, Devin’s wife, and handed her flowers. Moments later, it was Devin’s mother, Phyllis, being honored.

Finally, it was Devin’s turn — and he wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“I think my time, from beginning to end here, has been a testament of truly caring about people. People first caring about me enough to encourage me,” he said.

McCourty’s retirement ceremony was a family affair from start to finish, an hour-long celebratio­n that ended with the 35-yearold former safety posing for pictures alongside his wife, mother, three children, brother and nephew. Kraft and Patriots coach Bill Belichick both delivered glowing remarks that lasted several minutes around tribute videos that played before McCourty’s ending speech.

The first highlighte­d his impact as a player, captain and community leader in New England. The second was a compilatio­n of congratula­tory clips from McCourty’s

former teammates, including Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, Vince Wilfork and Mac Jones, who attended the ceremony.

“Devin, congratula­tions on your retirement,” Brady said in his video. “I’m so happy for you. I know how hard you worked over a long period of time. Seeing you come in as a young player, and to maximize your potential … speaks to who you are and what you’re all about.”

Brady called McCourty one of the best safeties in NFL history. Belichick’s praise reached greater heights.

“You’ve just been the epitome of everything a coach could ask for, a team could ask for,” Belichick said.

Other teammates took a lighter tone in their congratula­tions. Edelman, who recorded his tribute while shopping, said: “Dev, big day for me at Bed, Bath and Beyond. But it’s a bigger day for you.”

In a closing Q&A, McCourty revealed he knew he would retire after he watched the NFL playoffs from home. McCourty explained that in past years the experience pained him after the Patriots had been eliminated, but he enjoyed watching after their season ended in early January with a loss at Buffalo.

McCourty called it a career after 13 years, three Super Bowl titles, two Pro Bowl nods and one of the longest consecutiv­e starts streaks in franchise history. He closed his playing days with 115 straight starts and more than 12,000 snaps played.

“Devin’s superpower was his durability,” Kraft said.

His career started when the Patriots selected him in the first round of the 2010 draft, a time that followed a memorable predraft meeting with Belichick on the Rutgers campus. Then a redshirt senior, McCourty aced Belichick’s film test, including questions about the team’s defensive line calls, which Belichick said he’d posed to “embarrass” McCourty after his hot start.

“I’d never really had an interview like this,” Belichick

said. “I mean, I was completely stunned that he would know as much as he knew about the entire Rutgers defense.”

Looking ahead, McCourty confirmed he intends to pursue a career in sports media. Last season, he spent the Sunday of the Patriots’ bye week as a guest analyst for CBS. He recently returned to TV and appeared on WEEI last week, but will soon move back to his native New Jersey instead of remaining in New England.

“I’m excited to be a crazy, avid Patriots fan living in New Jersey,” McCourty said.

In their opening remarks, Belichick and Kraft said they expect McCourty to return in four years to be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame. In the meantime, McCourty expressed optimism about the 2023 Patriots, specifical­ly the captains he leaves behind, including Mac Jones and linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley.

“I look at my guy Mac here — first row, right here to be here to support me,” McCourty said. “I look at the team and I know the team has great leadership because of a guy like him. See my guy (Bentley) in the back, who was a young vet as soon as he got here. We looked at him to be a leader as a rookie. I see the growth that he’s had.

“I know, I know this team is in great hands.”

 ?? STAFF PHOTO BY CHRIS CHRISTO/MEDIANEWS GROUP/BOSTON HERALD) ?? Devin McCourty speaks during a media availabili­ty to honor his 13-year Patriots career.
STAFF PHOTO BY CHRIS CHRISTO/MEDIANEWS GROUP/BOSTON HERALD) Devin McCourty speaks during a media availabili­ty to honor his 13-year Patriots career.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States