FOXBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft made a surprise appearance in the Gillette Stadium media workroom Monday.
The occasion: a major career milestone for safety Devin McCourty.
This Thursday night’s game against the Buffalo Bills will mark the 200th start of McCourty’s NFL career. He’s the 90th player in league history to achieve that feat and just the 24th to do so with a single franchise.
“We don’t usually give personal lauding to anyone,” Kraft said, interrupting McCourty’s weekly news conference. “But special achievements made by special people deserve special recognition.”
Kraft’s address was followed by a video tribute featuring congratulatory messages from several of McCourty’s family members, his high school football coach, ex-Patriots defenders Duron Harmon, Logan Ryan and Vince Wilfork, and special teams captain Matthew Slater, who also was on stage for the presentation.
Kraft also presented McCourty with a photo collage featuring one image from each of his 199 games.
McCourty will be the third Patriots player to reach 200 career starts, trailing only Tom Brady and Slater in that category. He’s started every game he’s played since entering the NFL as a first-round draft pick in 2010.
The 35-year-old is renowned for his leadership — this is his 12th season as a Patriots captain — and has exhibited remarkable durability throughout his Patriots tenure. He has not missed a game since 2015 and has played more than 94% of defensive snaps in each of the last seven seasons.
“I’m just enjoying it, man,” McCourty said. “I did not expect that at all. I came in here as a young pup, and accomplishments didn’t matter — individual accomplishments. But it’s been a heck of a journey. I’m enjoying every moment of it, and a lesson I learned from my brother, from (former Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty), is just enjoy the moment. Don’t think of anything else but stay present and be in the moment.
“I think what would be cool for the 200th game would be a win, so that’ll be the focus.”