Devin McCourty was highly critical of the NFL’s decision to move up the deadline for player opt-outs.
But the New England Patriots safety never seriously considered opting out himself, according to his twin brother.
Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty said Friday that he and Devin always planned on playing football this season, despite the continued uncertainty regarding COVID-19. A total of eight Patriots players did choose to opt out, the highest number for any NFL team.
“Obviously, there’s a pandemic going on,” Jason McCourty said in a video call with reporters. “There’s a lot of things that we don’t know and a lot of steps that we’re taking, and we’re continuing to learn each and every day about the coronavirus. There’s just so much uncertainty that comes (with) it.
“As far as I’m concerned, I never — and I think me and Dev have both spoken a lot about our stance on everything that goes on — I don’t think either one of us ever thought about actually opting out. The opt-out itself just wasn’t worth it. I think for us, the love of the game and the ability to go out there — we didn’t really have a lot of issues that other people have, whether it was newborn kids, whether it was things that put them in high risk or close family members that put them in high risk.
“So for us, it was strictly from a family standpoint, we felt like it was worth it to give it a try and see what we were up against. And being able come into the building, seeing the things that would be done (to protect players), I think we thought it was necessary to go through that process. And I think us, like anybody in our society right now, if it was something that was at an extremely high risk to you or your family, of course you wouldn’t continue to do it if you could stop it. But I think for all of us right now that are playing that are in our building — I can’t speak for everybody, but I think we’re comfortable with the protocols and the measures that have been taken.”
McCourty opened his call with an unprompted salute to the behind-the-scenes personnel (cafeteria workers, equipment staff, trainers, etc.) who have helped make this unusual Patriots training camp possible. The Patriots are one of just a handful of NFL teams that have not had a single player land on the reserve/COVID-19 list, which houses players who have either tested positive or been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.
Other Patriots players have praised the team’s coronavirus protocols, as well.
“I think all of us are in this thing together, and it takes all of us being responsible, doing the right things, properly spacing out from one another, wearing our masks when we’re around each other,” McCourty said. “I think as long as we do those things, we’ll be OK. But there’s a lot of uncertainty, and there’s a lot of unknown. So I think we’re all just taking it day by day, and we’re figuring this thing out as it comes.”
McCourty also said he’s confident Patriots players will make responsible decisions away from the facility without the need for explicit direction from veterans and team captains. The 33-year-old defensive back previously expressed skepticism about players around the league staying away from clubs and other high-risk environments for the duration of the season.
“I think that’s not only veterans to young guys,” McCourty said Friday. “Young guys probably have gone through instances where maybe they’ve been affected or family members have been affected. I don’t even think we have to, as veterans, make sure we’re sitting down and telling young guys. I think we all understand the severity of this because guys have been impacted directly or indirectly through this over the last several months.
“None of us have been immune. It’s not like the older we are, the wiser. Everybody’s made mistakes, and everybody’s had impact with this virus, whether it’s somebody directly in your family, whether it’s someone you know. So I think we all are well aware of the variables that are going on right now, and it’s just up to us to make those correct decisions in those moments of weakness.”