The recent killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis prompted scores of NFL players and coaches to speak out against police brutality and systemic racism.
Jason McCourty hopes these conversations continue once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and teams can reconvene.
During an appearance Thursday on CNN’s “New Day,” McCourty said the New England Patriots’ impending return to Gillette Stadium will provide a forum for uncomfortable but necessary discourse about race in America.
“I think it’s going to be an opportunity to uncomfortably have these discussions and really feel what each and every person in the locker room has gone through,” the Patriots cornerback said. “Not only myself, but there’s so many guys within a locker room from so many different backgrounds, races, demographics that allows us a special moment to be a melting pot and, in those situations, really be able to care for one another and talk to each other about what our journey has been like.
“And I think that’s the unique setting we have within a locker room. Hey, we all have a common goal. We all want to do something special on the field. But at the same time, we have a responsibility to get to know each other and build on things that we can do in the community. So I’m excited to see what the locker room will be like when you have 90 guys that are willing to care for one another and be able to make change together.”
“It’s going to be an opportunity to uncomfortably have these discussions, and to be able to really feel what each and every person in the locker room has gone through,” Jason McCourty of the @Patriots on returning to the game amid the social unrest.https://t.co/rSDjxkUCAB pic.twitter.com/2cl7rb0rFl
— New Day (@NewDay) June 4, 2020
McCourty and his twin brother, Devin, are members of the Players Coalition, an organization of NFLers that “exists to end social injustices and racial inequality.” They have been recognized for their initiatives promoting criminal justice and education reform and are among the most vocal Patriots players on societal issues.
The McCourtys on Wednesday used their joint Twitter account to express their displeasure with Drew Brees, calling the New Orleans Saints quarterback “a disgrace” after Brees said he’d never agree with players “disrespecting the flag” by kneeling during the national anthem. Brees issued an apology Thursday morning, calling his comments “insensitive” and “divisive.”
Not every player will be willing to be an outspoken advocate for social change. That’s OK, McCourty said, as long as he respects the causes his teammates are fighting for.
McCourty does not believe the Patriots will have any issues in this regard.
“I think we’ll have 90 guys that are willing to respect each other,” he said on CNN. “I think there’s different levels of caring. I think for guys — you’re going to have some people that are willing to be on the front line. You think of guys like Malcolm Jenkins, Demario Davis — guys that are willing to speak up and say, ‘Hey, there’s a problem, and I want to help change, and I want to be a vessel to keep this thing moving and see change.’
“And you’re going to have some guys that may just look up and go up to a guy in the locker room and say, ‘Hey, man, I appreciate what you’re doing. I understand what you’re going through.’ And he may not be willing to step out and say things or be in front of a camera and do things of that nature, but they respect the fact that someone is doing it, and they understand the point of view they’re doing it from.
“And I think that’s what’s important. That’s what shows respect for your teammates and shows respect to just being on a team and understanding that, hey, we’re all different individuals, special in our own rights, and we just can respect that and move forward.”