By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Life as an NFL football player can be difficult, as you’re often not in control of your own employment and where you live. But sometimes, if you last in the NFL long enough, things just might work out for you.
That’s what happened for 30-year-old safety Jason McCourty. As anybody with a twin in the NFL would naturally hope for, Jason always dreamed of sharing a locker room with his brother, Devin. That appeared to have been a possibility last offseason, after Jason was released by the Titans. But the Patriots were well-stocked at the cornerback position and never completed a Malcolm Butler trade, so Jason ended up signing with the Browns. The dream of sharing an NFL field with his brother seemed to be dying.
“It really wasn’t a good opportunity for either side, so I think at that point in my mind I was just like, ‘I don’t know if this things ever going to happen,'” Jason said Tuesday in a conference call with New England media members.
And last week when his agent informed him that the Browns were going to release him, Jason had only one destination in mind: New England. As luck would have it, the Patriots wanted him too — so much that they completed to trade to make sure they secured him before he hit the free agency market.
“It was just like a whirlwind,” Jason said. “I guess that was Thursday that everything took place, so just being on the phone with my agent after he got done with a meeting with the Cleveland Browns and getting the news that, ‘Hey, they’re going to release you, give you the opportunity to land somewhere and kind of go and progress your career from that standpoint.’ And then maybe an hour later getting the news that I was going to be traded, so the unique and cool thing about it was I was talking to my wife right after I talked to my agent about being released. I was just like, ‘I think at this point my number one destination would be to try to get to New England to play with my brother,’ and an hour later you find out that’s where you’re headed, so a pretty cool chain of events.”
Jason also revealed that his brother played a big role in trying to get him to Foxboro, but the efforts to make the acquisition were already underway.
“I get a FaceTime from Dev and he’s just like – well as soon as I got released he showed me he texted Flo [Brian Flores] and was just like, ‘Man, how do we get Jason to New England?’ Dev said, ‘I’m going to text Bill [Belichick],’ so I think he hit up Bill about it, but I think at that point the trade was already in the process,” Jason explained. “Then I get a FaceTime from Dev while I’m working out and he was just like, ‘Yo, don’t worry about it. We’re going to trade for you. You’re coming to New England.’ I was just kind of looking at him because I thought he was joking around. Probably about five minutes later I get a call from John Dorsey, the GM in Cleveland, and he’s like, ‘I got some news for you. We’re not going to release you, so we’re going to trade you to New England.’ It was, I guess, a roller coaster type of day.”
Of course, acquiring Jason is not a move Belichick would have made just to make two twins happy. Jason will be expected to perform and produce. As he enters his 10th year in the NFL, he feels comfortable with his ability to work well within the Patriots’ system.
“I feel like at this point one of my biggest strengths is experience, being able to have been around the block, going against different offensive coordinators, going against different opponents year in and year out,” he said. “I’m very comfortable playing off-technique, playing press technique. I’ve just had to do it in so many different systems and switch up. Last year in Cleveland we played a ton of off-technique. The year before in Tennessee was a ton of press technique. I feel like those are my biggest strengths, and then beyond that just being in the different systems and facing different adversities. I feel like I’ve been able to learn to get along and be able to connect a lot of people. Just being forced to kind of come out of my shell last year of just transitioning, going from being in Tennessee for eight years to now you arrive in Cleveland, a team coming off a 1-15 team. You’re one of the older guys on the team and just getting acclimated there and being able to get the guys to trust me enough to say, ‘Hey, he’s a vet who’s done it the right way. He knows what he’s talking about,’ to be able to let me lead them and be able to kind of help them grow. I think those are the things that I can bring to the team and just start to show what I can do.”
Jason has been a veteran leader over the past several years in Tennessee and Cleveland, but he admitted that in New England, he’ll have to take a back seat to his brother.
“We can have the debate on who did the better pregame speeches,” Jason said of Devin. “He already told me don’t come in there thinking that I’m going to take over the pregame speech because that’s his thing. I may have to just sneak one for a game or two.”