FOXBORO, Mass. – When Devin McCourty announced his retirement from professional football earlier this month, it was hardly on-field stats that were used to praise the career that he had.
Instead, 12-time captain, three-time Super Bowl Champion, and, in head coach Bill Belichick’s words: his “professionalism, unselfishness, [and] work ethic,” were what came to mind.
“Four years from now, I anticipate us holding another ceremony on [Devin McCourty’s] behalf right outside here”, owner Robert Kraft said on Tuesday as he stood inside the Patriots Hall of Fame. He called McCourty “one of the greatest in franchise history.”
That may be an understatement. McCourty spend all 13 of his NFL seasons with the Patriots (12 of which he was a captain), started all 205 of his career games, and is one of eight players in league history to start in 5+ Super Bowls (h/t Patriots PR).
It was McCourty’s smarts as a football player that stood out the most to coach Bill Belichick:
“[Rutgers head coach Greg] Schiano told me, ‘Devin [is] really smart, could run the defense, kind of knew what everybody was doing’. I’d heard that before so I thought ‘we’ll see’.”
Belichick saw, alright. Not only did McCourty know every player’s assignment, but even when Belichick tried to “embarrass him” with defensive line stunts, he knew every answer.
“I’d never really had an interview like this, I mean, I was completely stunned,” said Belichick.
He went on to say that coach Schiano told him, “[McCourty] could play safety, for sure. So if you draft him as a corner, and you decide to move him to safety, Devin could easily play safety, but we needed him at corner. I said ‘well we do too so we’re going to draft him as a corner,’. He says, ‘he probably has as good a chance to be a great safety as he is a great corner.'”
He went on to be a Pro Bowler at both positions.
McCourty didn’t have much to say about himself during his speech, instead praising the coaches and teammates around him.
On Bill Belichick:
“As I’m watching the plays [on the monitor], I’m thinking of the coaching points that Bill would say to me… I think that speaks to, throughout all of the years, his coaching style, the way he coached me, and my ability to retain a lot of the coaching points and understand, really, what he was trying to get out of me as a player.”
On the importance of his teammates throughout his career, specifically former running back Kevin Faulk:
“The best moment was my locker ended up being right next to Kevin Faulk’s… I think back to, just, to my time here, was really defined by my rookie year… he would always just pour into me, we would sit there and he would be like, ‘man you know you gotta get a routine. Whatever your routine is, you just do it day in and day out… you just stick to your routine’.”
McCourty found his way, and then “stuck to that routine for 13 years, and that’s what this building has been a part of for me. There’s been so many individuals that cared more about other individuals more than themselves. Taking the time to do great things.”
This team-first attitude that McCourty carried throughout his career in New England will never be replaced, and will certainly be missed both in and around Gillette Stadium.
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