BOSTON (CBS) — Whenever the Patriots partake in their numerous community events throughout the season, there’s a good chance Devin McCourty is front and center.
That’s a big reason why the safety is New England’s Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee, as announced by the team on Thursday. The award is given annually to an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field. Each team gets one nominee, with the winner set to be announced the night before the Super Bowl on Feb. 2.
For McCourty, giving back to his community has been part of his fabric since he was younger.
“I give back because my mom instilled it in me. She showed me the way by having a good heart and giving back to people,” McCourty said in a press release on Thursday. “She was a nurse and growing up I knew in life that I wanted to do something to give back to people. It’s so much more gratifying when you can give to others and see the effect you have on them. Anyone can take a gift, but to take the time out and do something special for someone, it’s a great honor.”
Patriots owner Robert Kraft said that McCourty’s off-field work is inspiring to the whole team.
“He has been a special part of our organization for nine seasons, not only for what he’s been able to do on the field, but for the way he’s been able to positively impact those in our communities,” Kraft said in a release. “Devin is a natural leader and his genuine commitment to helping others is inspiring.”
Kraft presented McCourty with a special plaque to commemorate his nomination Thursday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.
McCourty has been a Patriots team captain for each of the last nine seasons. He was one of the many Patriots to get turned into a Christmas Tree (alongside his twin brother, Jason) at Tuesday’s annual holiday party at Gillette. He’s also been one of the more outspoken NFL players in regards to juvenile criminal justice reform.
In 2013, the McCourty brothers partnered with the Embrace Kids Foundation and launched “Tackle Sickle Cell,” a campaign that aims to educate the public, increase blood donations and raise money and awareness for the fight against sickle cell disease.