“Wait, did someone just drop into this call?”
While the football team at Boston English high school was on a ZOOM call meeting, many of the students were stunned to see two familiar faces appear on the corner of the screen: Patriots Jason and Devin McCourty.
In a video released by House of Highlights on Tuesday (the call took place on May 27), the Patriots cornerback and and free safety surprised the school’s football team to chat about football, their careers, and to get to know the students. The McCourtys had done their homework on some of the players, from asking senior cornerback Ainsley Pena what it was like be the only woman on the team, to asking junior defensive tackle Peterly Durosca about his off-field passion of singing.
“Who’s the biggest Patriots fan?” Jason asked the group, to which senior offensive tackle Richard “RJ” Santos confidently spoke up. To test his Patriots knowledge, Jason asked him who Tom Brady defeated in his first ever Super Bowl victory.
Santos got it right: Saint Louis. He then had a message for Bill Belichick.
“Make sure you give Belichick my information,” Santos said to the McCourtys before asking Jason what it was like to get traded from the Cleveland Browns to the Patriots.
“Cleveland sucked,” he said. “I didn’t enjoy being there at all, just to be honest with you. As you guys know, you’re on a team and it’s more than just the guys in the locker room. You need to have good players that get along with each other, work hard [and] compete hard but you also need good coaches, people that are surrounding you and working for your best interest…So for me, going from Cleveland to New England was like night and day.”
Jason also told them about his decision to go to Rutgers over Boston College, to which he said the players on the team are what impacted his choice.
“What sucks for you all right now is there are not any physical visits going on, because everything is being done virtually, but at that time for me, actually going to the school and taking that official visit was everything for me,” he explained. “When I went to Rutgers versus Boston College, Rutgers just felt like a great fit. Me getting along with the guys that were there, really felt like [they] were a lot like me. Obviously Boston College, it was cool, but I didn’t get the same vibe.”
The McCourtys then opened up about their NFL careers thus far, including what it was like to play in their first games. For Devin, who was drafted in the first round by the Patriots in the 2010 NFL Draft, that meant playing against the Bengals and dealing with a trash-talking Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson.
“The week of the game, Chad starts tweeting at me, talking trash and I’m like, ‘Dang this is kind of cool. He’s getting my Twitter followers up, alright!’ But, first play of that game I’m lined up on the TL and they throw a 40-yard bomb to him and I break up the pass, and from that point on that rookie year, I just saw pass after pass coming [while] starting as a rookie. They attack you, but I still remember that game and honestly sitting there like, I’m playing against guys that I looked up to, that I rooted for. It was just crazy to me.”
Jason, who suited up for both the Browns and the Titans before making his way to the Patriots, said the surreal feeling of playing with his brother, and for quarterback Tom Brady, sticks out to him most.
“Getting a chance to play with a quarterback like Tom Brady, I would come in every day fired up,” says McCourty. “Like, ‘Man that’s Brady right there!” …The really cool part about that for me was watching the way Tom would work every single day, and in those crucial moments in the game in the fourth quarter, where it’s kind of going back and forth and on defense we finally get a big stop, to me was where Tom shined the brightest.
“In those clutch moments, he just seemed like he was always at his best and he always showed up to make those winning plays.”
Lastly, the McCourtys discussed dealing with adversity. Given the social unrest going on around the country right now regarding racial injustice, they left an encouraging message to the team:
“There’s a lot of African Americans on this call and you see what is going on in society right now,” Jason said. “There’s going to be things that are going to come up that you’re going to have to make good decisions on and also place yourself around good people.”
Understanding that COVID-19 has posed many challenges for athletes, including the Patriots, Devin also shared an inspiring message that Belichick says to them.
“He would always tell us, ‘What are we going to do to get an edge? Each week we play a team, what are we going to do to get an edge to out-prepare them. That’s up to us, that’s in our control.’ So for you guys, seniors that want to go out and play their last great season, sophomores and juniors that want to show I’m here now, this is the time to get a leg ahead, to put in work. Each day, pick something to do that you’re uncomfortable that, that you don’t like doing.”
Jason added: “Like Dev said, don’t be afraid to fail and go out there and continue to make the best of your situation with a positive attitude. We’ll be rooting for you guys, we’ll be looking for you this upcoming season assuming everything gets back rolling.”
The McCourtys then ended the call with a parting request:
“Yeah, don’t drop us just because Tom left,” Devin asked. “We’ll come find you!”