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Transcript: Jason McCourty Conference Call 3/20
CORNERBACK JASON MCCOURTY
Q: What has it been like for you to see the success your brother, Devin McCourty, has had playing in the postseason and what would it mean for you to have a chance to join in that success?
JM: I think in regards to the first part - being able to watch my brother's success - man, it's been really cool. Us being twins, growing up extremely close like we did, the one thing you kind of always wish is the maximum amount of success for your brother. For me to kind of be at a close distance to be able to see the things that he's been able to attain individually and then also as a team has been really cool to kind of just be a part of it just as a family member. In regards to me, I'm excited just about the opportunity, I guess, just to be able to now share the field with Dev and just be able to do something that we grew up loving. With this opportunity you think back to being 10 years old, waking up early to head to a Pop Warner game and now to be able to [play together] at this point. I'm excited about just being able to go through offseason workouts with him along my side and be able to catch up and see how much we've grown since the last time. I'm just looking forward to that opportunity, getting acclimated to a new team, a new system, new coaches, new players. That's really my only focus. I can't even think beyond that because there's just so many things that come before that and the steps that take place just to get to those things.
Q: What was your initial reaction to the trade? Also, did you ever start to think that you wouldn't get the chance to ever play with your brother in the NFL?
JM: Yeah, I think for both of us last year was an opportunity but the timing just, obviously, didn't make sense for New England. They were in a situation where they had Steph [Stephon Gilmore], who's a really, really good player. Malcolm [Butler] was a really, really good player. Also, [Eric] Rowe and a bunch of other guys. 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.' It was just like a whirlwind. 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.
Q: Are you following Kenny Britt around from team to team or is he following you around? You guys have been teammates before in Tennessee and in Cleveland.
JM: We've been joking about that since we got to Cleveland. I don't know what it is, but we just can't get away from each other. Our kids get along really well. Our wives are good friends, so maybe it's just meant to be for me and him to hang out throughout our NFL careers.
Q: How familiar are you with the system here just based on your relationship with Devin through the years? How long do you anticipate it taking you to fully pick it up?
JM: I don't think it'll take long. I think just from an experience standpoint of I've been able to only play for two teams throughout my nine-year career but I've had a good amount of defensive coordinators and I think when you have to do that, you're forced to have to adjust. You get used to different terminology, different systems, so you start to combine them all and make sense of things. Honestly, having Dev, we talk about different things throughout the course of the season, how to approach one game plan versus the next. Then this is just a team that I watched extremely closely, so I think the one cool thing for me was when I got to Cleveland last year it was a younger team and I didn't know a lot of the guys when I first walked into the locker room. But just over the years of following my brother and the team, I walk into this locker room already having a really good idea of a bunch of the guys on the roster so that, I think, will help for an easier transition. Over the years of going down to the Super Bowls when Dev goes or coming to visit him at different points of the season, I've really gotten a chance to meet a lot of the guys.
Q: Do you envision your role here having any kind of leadership responsibilities?
JM: I think right now, for myself, I'm not going to go in with any expectations in regards to that. I just want to go be myself, get there, get accustomed to the guys in the locker room, not try to go in there and say, 'I'm this 10-year veteran and I've been a leader here. Let me lead you guys.' But just going in and being myself and get to know them to figure out what my niche is and where I'm going to fit in on the team, so I'm just kind of going in open-minded, ready to work and just ready to do whatever it takes to help the team succeed.
Q: What would you say your strength's are as a player, and have you been assigned a locker yet? Would you be interested in sharing a locker next to Devin?
JM: No, I haven't been assigned a locker yet. I was just able to go up there Friday, do my physical, meet some of the coaches for a quick opportunity. No, I'm not sure exactly what number yet, what locker and all of those logistics. Hopefully, maybe I can put Dev out of his locker and make him move somewhere else. We'll see how all that turns out. Just as far as strengths, 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. 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.
Q: Could you and your family just move in with Devin and make it one big, happy family there?
JM: I don't know if me and Dev's marriages would last if we decide to do that. One way we may go is maybe we could convince them to get a place with the kids and then me and Dev could get a separate place down the street for during the season. I don't know how that's going to work, but we'll probably live close and figure it all out there. That's the logistical part that I'm going through now figuring out, 'OK, can I get out of my lease in Cleveland and start a lease in Foxboro?' So, those are all of the fun things that you don't get talked about when you're trying to transition from one city to the next.
Q: You mentioned playing together with your brother in Pop Warner. What was your team name and did you guys have fun playing together back then?
JM: Yeah, we were the Valley Cottage Indians. Football wise, me and Dev have played on the same team all the way up until 2009 when I was drafted by the Titans. Back then, I can remember I was waking up early. We played our games Sunday mornings and as we moved up they moved the times later and later. We'd wake up and we'd go outside and we'd go over all of the plays that we had in for the day. If one of us was the running back, the other one's pretending to hand him the ball off as the quarterback or throwing passes. I just remember us always trying to compete with one another, but for the most part just wanting to be on the same team to push each other to try to succeed together. Those are probably some of the funnest memories when it comes to football, just being able to be out there playing free and just having fun.
Q: Were you the one that was able to break the news to your brother that you were joining him in New England and could you just kind of walk us through that process and how excited he was?
JM: Yeah, so I got the call that I was going to be released. I told him and told my wife and we were all doing us. Then I left to go workout and about an hour later 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. 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.
Q: How did you and Devin develop your leadership qualities? What was it that made you both such students of the game?
JM: I would probably say a lot of the leadership just from my mom, the way she raised us, the way she led our house and kind of just who she is as a person. I think those characteristics rubbed off on me and Dev a great deal, of jus the things she instilled in us of hard work and it doesn't matter where you start; it's where you finish. I think we kind of just kept that throughout school, sports and everything as we continued to grow. I think the student of the game a lot came from Rutgers. Being there under Coach [Greg] Schiano - he can be a tough guy to play for but the one thing you're always going to respect about Coach Schiano is the way that he worked. He spent a lot of nights in that office and he was a grinder. I think for a lot of us there that went to Rutgers from Logan [Ryan], to Duron [Harmon], all of us guys - Marcus Cooper - we kind of got accustomed to that amount of film study, the amount of knowledge that was poured into us as far as football. I think that just continued to carry over. We came into the league as students of the game all wanting to know as much as possible. It just speaks volumes to Dev being the captain there, Duron being the captain there, Logan being a veteran with experience while he was there and now carrying that over to Tennessee. I would say my mom and Rutgers had a lot to do with just the type of leaders and the type of players that we've become.
Q: When you and Devin talk football, is it more about X's and O's or leadership qualities on and off the field? What do you enjoy talking about more with your brother?
JM: Man, it's everything. The cool thing for me is I've been able to get the perspective, especially when it comes to X's and O's. We've talked a lot, obviously, both of us being defensive backs over the years of the game plan, from a game plan standpoint, of he's maybe playing somebody in our division and I get on the phone with him and give him all of the notes that we had while we played him. We talk about what their attack would be versus what our attack would be, and that was always really cool just to see the different perspective of how one staff seems to attack a certain team and the way another one does. We always got a lot out of that because it helps you to defend that team come Sunday. I think beyond that, the off-the-field dynamic was always cool to learn about just for the fact that we were kind of - I remember being drafted in '09 and having Coach [Jeff] Fisher as my head coach and Fish was a real player's coach, really laid back. I remember telling Dev a lot about that his last year at Rutgers, and then he comes in and goes to New England, which is kind of a little bit different. Us sitting there discussing the way one team is ran versus another team, it gives you just a different perspective to be able to really not take for granted the situation you're in, whether it's good or bad, but just so you know to approach it in a positive way and realize how you can make the best out of it.
Q: How differently do you think you've both seen the game over the years?
JM: That's probably one of the most intriguing parts of us teaming back up at this point. We went through all those years of playing football together and now you're almost a decade later through different experiences. You've seen the game over the last nine years through two different lenses, so it's going to be really interesting, I think, for both of us to see sitting in meeting rooms, being on the practice field, of how we see things and how differently or how much alike. I think that's probably going to be intriguing for the coaches, as well. I think the one really cool thing is we're probably each other's biggest fans and biggest critics. I'm very interested to see how much we can push each other to become better leaders, better players and the whole nine [yards].
Q: Devin acknowledged that he thinks you may be a little faster than him but that he's a little more physical? What would your scouting report be for the two of you?
JM: Yeah, for some reason he thinks he's more physical than me, so I kind of let him have that one. I'm definitely faster than him, and I think some of our skill sets have kind of adjusted to what our roles within our teams have been. For him, making that switch from corner to safety, he's had to become more physical coming down in the box or coming up making tackles. As far as me, it's just the quickness aspect, getting in and out of breaks, being able to stay at the line of scrimmage and being able to chase some of the dynamic receiver's that we have. I think those are probably the biggest differences. I would agree with him there. We can have the debate on who did the better pregame speeches. 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.