For the past 10 years, the Patriots have made it to the playoffs. Devin McCourty was on nine of those teams, and his brother Jason watched from the stands as his twin got a taste of the post-season.
On Sunday, Jason will compete in the very first playoff game of his career.
The significance of this moment isn't lost on him -- not by a long shot -- and he took to "The Players' Tribune" to write about everything he was feeling. Let's just say, Patriots fans won't want to miss this. Actually, scratch that. Football fans won't want to miss this.
Here are some things we learned from his moving and, oftentimes, funny essay.
Family is all you got
Jason makes it clear early on in his essay that no matter how much ribbing they do, he and Devin love each other, and throughout their lives, it's been family first. After a fist fight when they were kids, Jason writes that his mother hammered that lesson home.
"Her message was clear, and one that always stuck with me: You can disagree with family. You can argue with family. But you never fight with family. Because family is all you got."
Acting like Dev
Jason jokes that though he "doesn't see it," he knows people will forever confuse the McCourty twins. He writes that he has gone through entire interactions as Devin, which just means, he's himself "except much louder."
*Mirror image *Jason was drafted a year before Devin, and as a sixth-rounder, he learned nothing was promised in the NFL. When Devin was drafted, he went in the first round and was a starter and Pro Bowler in his rookie year. Jason explains that he went to Hawaii with Devin for the Pro Bowl, and looking at his brother's career and path only pushed him.
"I wanted to just be able to experience that moment with him, partly to enjoy his success but also as motivation to push myself. That’s honestly one of the blessings of having a twin who shares your interests," Jason writes. "You kind of get this mirror view of what you’re capable of."
*The path to now *From Tennessee, where he established himself to a leader, to Cleveland, where he honed his skills as a mentor, everything was leading Jason to this. Jason recalls the day he found out he was being traded to New England and playing on the same team with his brother from the first time since college.
Devin FaceTime'd Jason while he was working out.
"Right away I saw that he had this huge smile on his face, so I knew it was either good news or he'd thought of a funny way to roast me," Jason writes.
Then, Devin broke the news.
"I started smiling too -- and I don't think I've stopped smiling since that moment."
Two McCourtys are better than one
Their teammates and coaches have since been able to figure out who is who, but when Jason first arrived in New England, that wasn't always the case. Early on in training camp, Jason writes that Coach Bill Belichick called both him and Devin over to the sidelines.
"When we got over to him, he looked at both of us back and forth a couple of times and said, 'Do you guys have to wear the same f*ing sleeves?'
"And then of course, we wore the same sleeves for the rest of camp. Had to. Too funny not to. And Bill still struggled with it. Even when we were in jerseys wearing our different numbers, he'd just called me Dev too."
Taking nothing for granted
After a career full of seasons that ended in December, Jason says that is taking nothing for granted about working in January, and his teammates know exactly what it means to him too.
"As the year went on, I got more chances to play and carved out a role for myself. And the guys on the team, knowing I’d never made it to the playoffs, rallied around that," he writes. "They wanted to win for me, which meant a lot. We ended up clinching against Buffalo a couple of days before Christmas, after I got a late interception to seal the game. When I ran over to the sidelines, all the guys were waiting there to celebrate with me.
"And you better believe, as soon as that game ended, I was the first person in line to get my damn 'Patriots 2018 AFC East Division Champions' hat and t-shirt."
The whole essay is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face, and if you weren't already pulling for the Patriots and J-Mac, you will be now.