Deion Sanders: “I heard you said you may retire, if you win it.”
Devin McCourty: “I don’t know for sure, man. But I do look it that, if we can win this game, winning it with my brother, I don’t know what else I can do that’ll top that. So I’m just trying to make sure that I enjoy this season and I enjoy these last couple of days with these guys.”
Remember last year, in the locker room after taking a big, swift stiletto kick to the emotional groin courtesy of the Eagles, Rob Gronkowski was asked if he’s thinking about retirement and he answered “Where’d you hear that?” And half the world became convinced he was calling it quits to go to Hollywood and become the Ryan Gosling of nobody’s generation? I read very little into that because that’s a tough moment to ask anyone to gather his thoughts and announce major life decisions.
Well this is nothing like that.
That’s about as clear and unambiguous a way to declare you’re thinking about retiring as you’re ever going to get at a time and a place like Super Bowl Media Day. From a guy who’s exponentially better at expressing his thoughts and choosing his words than Gronk is.
And you can see his point. He and Jason will turn 32 in the middle of next training camp. He’s played nine years. Missed all of five games in that time. So far this year he’s been on the field for 1,121 snaps. Which means that, depending on how Sunday goes, by the end of the game he might have played more snaps than any safety in the league. This is his fifth Super Bowl. And that doesn’t even account for his work on Special Teams. He’s already a lock for the Patriots Hall of Fame. And he’s got his brother with him. Should the best case scenario play out, how could it get better than to leave then, with your health and your brains still in the shell with the yolk unbroken?
He’d be tough to replace. He’s clearly been one of Belichick’s favorites since taking him in the 1st round out of the Patriots’ farm team at Rutgers. But that’s a concern for another time. The Pats have lost plenty of irreplaceable core players to retirement, free agency and injuries and … well, replaced them. Some have been harder than others, but they’ve managed to find a way and kept the engines on this starship cranked up to Warp 11. Losing great veterans because they wanted to go out on top is the ultimate Champagne Problem. And if it comes to that, I’ll take the obvious bad along with the definite good.
But again, that’s for Future Jerry to deal with. In the meantime, what I just heard were the words of a man who’s planning to ball out like he has nothing else to play for except this one game. So keep an eye on Devin McCourty, one of the greatest winners in Patriots history.