Patriots safety Devin McCourty was one of several players to take a knee during the national anthem on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. As one of the team’s leaders, the 30-year-old safety relayed that many factors were weighed before players chose to make the pregame statement.
In the press conference following the Patriots’ dramatic comeback win, McCourty said that instead of answering “a ton of questions back and forth about pregame,” he would just explain his thoughts all at once. He was wearing a t-shirt that denounced racism, fascism, sexism and hate.
He began by noting how members of the team weren’t sure exactly how they should respond. McCourty also referenced President Trump:
We were obviously very conflicted. We knew our message would be perceived by a lot of people in a way that wasn’t what we were trying to put out. A lot of guys felt, I mean, all over the place about the comments by the President Friday night.
Additionally, McCourty explained how faith played a role in inspiring their message:
As a leader on the team, a lot of guys came to me and they didn’t know what to do. They just were kind of angry. It was good Saturday. We all kind of talked as a group of releasing that anger and not being angry. We were in chapel and a lot of guys talked about that in our faith, God is first. We wanted to come together.
This led to the crux of McCourty’s explanation:
First and foremost, we hate that people are going to see it as that we don’t respect the military and the men and women that are way braver than us that go and put their life on the line every day for us to have the right to play football, and we know people are going to see it that way. Guys have family members, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters that serve, and they were really conflicted about it. But, we just wanted to send a message of unity and being together and not standing for the disrespect and different ways guys felt.
[There were] so many different things going through a lot of guys heads, and it was unique to see guys kind of come together and bond together as a group before the game and do that. But, I think all of us want a message that goes out of unity, being together, obviously as a team, and also as a fraternity of NFL players. Guys talk throughout the league about that, and it was great to be a part of a lot of guys trying to do the right thing. Obviously, it won’t be seen as the right thing to everybody, but I think in our hearts, what we focus on the most was that we were trying to do the right thing today. I’m proud of our guys and I’m proud of the group and the guys I get to go out there and play football with. They’re all great guys. They’re better people than they are football players.
Here’s full video of McCourty in the press conference: