|Devin McCourty: ‘I don’t want to go and sit around the White House for 4 hours to shake the president’s hand’||02.20.17 at 11:00 am ET|
Devin McCourty is one of six Patriots players who have already said they will not attend a ceremony at the White House honoring the Super Bowl champs.
“I’m not going to the White House,” McCourty told TIME via text message the day after the Super Bowl. “Basic reason for me is I don’t feel accepted in the White House. With the president having so many strong opinions and prejudices I believe certain people might feel accepted there while others won’t. … I can’t imagine a way I go there.”
Over the weekend, McCourty returned to Rutgers for a blood drive at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, and qhile he was there he spoke with NJ.com and further explained his reasons for not planning on visiting the White House.
McCourty said his decision is not a boycott.
“I personally don’t think so, but I think at this time in our country people feel like it’s a huge statement so they are going with it,” he said. “For me, it is what it is. Last time we won, a bunch of guys didn’t go, but it just wasn’t as a big a deal as it is now.”
Added McCourty: “It wasn’t really a big decision. I knew I wasn’t going to the White House if we won. To me, it’s a personal decision. Having been there before, you go there and you shake the president’s hand. That’s it. For me, I don’t want to go and sit around the White House for four hours to shake the president’s hand.”
McCourty also noted he won’t be trying to influence any of his teammates and their decision. They can decide for themselves.
“I think everybody on the team has the right and should decide,” he said. “I don’t think you should not go because six guys aren’t going, or you should go. To me, it’s up to you if you want to go or not.”
|DL Alan Branch joins growing number of Patriots who say they won’t go to White House||02.09.17 at 8:35 pm ET|
Alan Branch told SiriusXM Radio on Thursday that he won’t be visiting the White House as part of the Super Bowl celebration.
The veteran Patriots defensive lineman said he will be “spending time with family” instead.
Branch joins a growing collection of players who have publicly said they are not going, a group that includes Devin McCourty, Martellus Bennett, Chris Long and Dont’a Hightower.
For more Patriots time, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Sounds like Chris Long won’t be going to the White House||at 10:49 am ET|
It sounds like Chris Long won’t be visiting the White House.
In a Thursday Tweet responding to a columnist who wrote an “open letter” saying he shouldn’t go, the Patriots defensive end said he “planned on skipping” the trip to the White House, and added that it was “my call.”
“[I] don’t need an open letter explaining my own words to me,” he added.
Long has always been very open when it comes to his stance on social issues. The veteran spoke eloquently this past season about his feelings regarding Colin Kaepernick’s protests. He’s also been active through the Waterboys Initiative in helping bring clean water to East African communities in need.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Dont’a Hightower on potential White House trip: ‘Been there, done that’||02.08.17 at 1:17 pm ET|
Dont’a Hightower said Wednesday that he did not plan to go to the White House.
“Been there, done that,” the linebacker told ESPN, who noted he didn’t go in 2014 either after the first Super Bowl win, and added that it wasn’t anything specific to the president. He did note that he had been following Alabama’s national championship win when he was with the Tide as a collegian.
Devin McCourty and Martellus Bennett have already indicated they won’t be going to the White House as well, while James White is taking a wait-and-see approach.
Hightower, who was not at the parade on Tuesday, also told ESPN that the second Super Bowl win was “a million times” sweeter than the first one, referencing the fact that Tom Brady was missing for the first quarter of the season.
“For the adversity we had in the first four games, and having three different quarterbacks and obviously not having Rob [Ninkovich],” he said. “Having guys put in certain situations who weren’t ready at the time — but it didn’t matter. And the way that they responded and how well they did showed what kind of a team we are.”
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Patriots players knew Tom Brady, offense was going to score TD in overtime||02.06.17 at 1:06 am ET|
HOUSTON — Tom Brady led the Patriots from 25 points down in the second half, including 16 points down in the middle of the fourth quarter to beat the Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
Once he and the offense tied it up in the closing two minutes, the Patriots knew they were going to win.
“We knew,” Trey Flowers said. “Well, I think I had a feeling when Julian [Edelman] caught that ball. You know, that unbelievable catch, man. I just knew, if we go to overtime, we’re going to get it. We’re going to win and be the champs. So once we got the ball [in overtime] and they put the ball in Tom’s hands, it was game over.”
Added Devin McCourty: “We said all year, if we get stops, he’s going to score. I don’t care how much time is left. I went to the coin toss and said if Slate [Matthew Slater] gets this coin toss we’re going to win the game.”
The Patriots defense was so confident the offense was going to score, they told defensive coordinator Matt Patricia to stop going over a game plan.
“We stay back and Matt P’s going over defense and we’re like, ‘Matty P, we’re not going out there. There’s no way we’re going out there. Tom Brady’s in the groove. He’s doing everything we need him to do to win this game,'” Duron Harmon said. “And that’s what happened. He led that team down that whole fourth quarter. That’s Tom Brady quarter. That’s what we’re going to call it from now on.”
Added Logan Ryan: “When it got to overtime, I basically untied my cleats and watched Brady like you guys did.”
Between the fourth quarter and overtime, Brady went 21-for-27 with 246 yards.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|Scouting Report: What you have to know about Super Bowl LI||02.04.17 at 3:55 pm ET|
HOUSTON — Here’s everything you need to know about Super Bowl LI between the Patriots and Falcons:
WHEN THE PATRIOTS RUN THE BALL
The Patriots have been able to get good, consistent and (mostly) steady yardage out of their backs all season long, finishing the regular season with an average of 117 yards per game, seventh in the NFL. Leading the way has been LeGarettte Blount, who had career highs in carries (299), yards (1,161) and touchdowns (18). New England figures to mix in a healthy dose of Dion Lewis (64 carries, 283 yards in seven games) as a changeup presence between the tackles. His make-you-miss ability combined with Atlanta’s occasionally dicey work against smaller backs could mean he’ll get more work that initially anticipated as a runner. As has been the case all season long with Blount, it’s not how many yards he gets; it’s when he gets them. No one is better at closing out games than he is — his work in the second half is a sizable reason why the Patriots ranked fifth during the regular season in time of possession (31:13). If he is able to top 60 rushing yards in the second half, this game won’t even be a contest. When it comes to defending the run, Atlanta was 17th in the league this year, having allowed 104.5 rushing yards per game. Some of the stats have to be placed in context because of game situations and whatnot (there were lots of leads in those games, and they would willingly yield yards on the ground and time at the expense of a big pass play). But in their last nine games (including the playoffs), opponents have topped 95 yards on the ground in eight of them.
WHEN THE PATRIOTS PASS THE BALL
This season, Atlanta hasn’t faced a combination in the passing game like New England. Tom Brady (67 percent completion rate, 3.554 passing yards, 28 TDs, 2 INTs, 112.2 passer rating) and the Patriots are able to get production out of multiple areas, with wide receivers Julian Edelman (98 catches, 159 targets, 1,106 yards, 3 TDs) and Chris Hogan (38 catches, 58 targets, 680 yards, 4 TDs), running backs James White (60 catches, 86 targets, 551 yards, 5 TDs) and Dion Lewis (17 catches, 24 targets, 94 yards) and tight end Martellus Bennett (55 catches, 73 targets, 701 yards, 7 TDs).
The key here? The Falcons have shown some zone over the course of the year, but they’ll need to play sturdy man coverage against the Patriots. Brady practically salivates at the idea of an occasionally vulnerable 3-deep zone like Atlanta has shown at times this year. The real backbreaker here will be in the White/Lewis combo out of the backfield. The Atlanta is one of the worst teams in the league (26th per Football Outsiders) at defending backs in the passing game. Expect New England to lean heavily on that grouping in the passing game. It’s no coincidence that the Patriots were able to get so much production out of their running back spot in their last game against a Dan Quinn-defense; Shane Vereen set a Super Bowl record with 11 catches two years ago against the Seahawks. Considering what happened down the stretch and into the playoffs, while White will almost certainly get some looks, it’s Lewis who has shown a masterful ability to do multiple things. Bottom line? He’ll get plenty of touches.
One more note that will spell doom for the Falcons: The ability of the New England pass catchers to gain yards after the catch. The Patriots were third in the year at YAC this past season as a team (White and Bennett were both in the league’s top 20), while the Falcons allowed a league-high average of 132.9 yards after the catch per game, an odd stat for a defense with so much speed. If Atlanta can’t find a way to limit the passing YAC ability, it’ll be a long night.
The Falcons pass rush has been better as of late, but the group has to figure out a way to get some sustained pressure on Brady. Do you move around some of your best rushers, like Houston did? Or do you stay static and play to your strengths and hope you’ve prepared to a point where you can out-execute the other side? If Atlanta moves some guys around, rookie Deion Jones is a candidate to try and be that guy who brings some heat up the middle. A dynamic young talent who is capable of blitzing or working in coverage, he’s an X factor for the group. If the Falcons play it straight up, Vic Beasley (15.5 sacks in 2016) will be lining up opposite Patriots right tackle Marcus Cannon. Per PFF, Cannon hasn’t yielded a sack since September. That strength-against-strength matchup will go a long way toward determining the overall success of the New England passing game on Sunday night.
|Devin McCourty won’t be making a show during Super Bowl LI national anthem||02.03.17 at 12:38 pm ET|
HOUSTON — Devin McCourty knows there’s a time and place for everything.
The veteran Patriots safety, appearing in his third Super Bowl Sunday, believes this is not the time to make a political statement.
In light of the recent demonstrations against President’s Trump immigration orders, celebrities like Lady Gaga have indicated that they would like to see some sort of statement of inclusion during the Super Bowl.
Lady Gaga, an outspoken opponent of the President, indicated that she would be making the same statement during her 13-minute halftime show that she has been making all along.
During the preseason, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started a firestorm by kneeling during the national anthem in protest of what he felt was discrimination against Muslims and unfair treatment of minorities by police.
Several other players in the NFL, as well as other sports, followed with statements of their own. McCourty and Martellus Bennett raised their fists during the national anthem in the regular season opener in Arizona.
The Celtics locked arms together in unity during the national anthem in a preseason game against Philadelphia at UMass.
But McCourty said Thursday he will not be making any such statements on Sunday.
“Nah. I did that for a reason,” McCourty said. “I didn’t do it all season so I wouldn’t do it now. It was to get a point across. I was able to talk it and spread that word and do different things with that. I think it was good a learning experience for me to be able to speak out on something I felt passionate about.”
What did McCourty take from the experience in September?
“I was actually about to speak with some officers and do different things like that in Boston,” McCourty added. “I thought it was a great thing. Myself, Marty and other teammates getting involved with being able to learn different aspects of life and what other people go through. It was a good experience.”
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