Devin McCourty's Latest Steve Belichick Story is How Legends are Born
Devin McCourty has been making the post-retirement rounds, beginning with farewell address to Patriots Nation:
… an official retirement ceremony
… featuring a story about how he and Jason Parent Trapped Bill Belichick the day before Super Bowl XLIX:
… and, most recently, his appearance on Chris Long's podcast, where he talks about among other things, the conversations he had with both Mr. Kraft and Belichick as he told them he was retiring, the worst conversation he's ever had, which was an hour long meeting in his second year when Belichick showed him tape of every bad play he had made, how Jerod Mayo talked him down off the ledge after that one, and who he thinks might be the next head coach in New England. That's when the discussion turns to Steve Belichick's first day as a position coach.
Long: "I really hit it off with Steve. … I'm gonna be honest. Hey listen, I have a dad who played and he's got a dad who coached. … Was it hard to respect him in the beginning? And what did he do to earn people's respect? And what did you think was good about Steve? Because I really respected him. I liked him as a guy."
McCourty: “The one thing that I’ve loved about Steve is his honesty. I remember Steve takes over … after Pat Graham left, [Brian Flores] is moving to linebackers coach, and Steve said Bill tells him two weeks before the offseason program starts that he’s going to be the safeties coach.
“Now he’s walking in the room, it’s me, Pat Chung, Duron Harmon, Nate Ebner. We’ve got all these veterans - I’m older than Steve, Pat’s older than Steve, he played with Duron (at Rutgers) and he’s probably the same age as Nate - and he walks in and goes, ‘Yo, I’m going to be honest with y’all. I don’t know what the F I’m doing right now. My dad told me two weeks ago that I was even going to have this job.’ And now I’m just sitting here like, ‘I don’t know, what’s next?’ And that first year, we all just worked together.”
“Now when I look at him, I think his growth has come because of the honesty, not coming in saying, ‘My dad is Bill Belichick. I was born to coach. I’m going to do this.' No, he came in and was like, 'I’m going to learn from some veterans that I’ve got in this room, take advantage of that opportunity that I get, and I’m going to grow as a coach.'
“And I think now, you look at him and the games he’s coached in, like the game we played against Tampa back in 2021. That’s one of the biggest games. You’ve got Tom Brady coming back, and that’s one of our better performances of the year. We fell short, but we went out there and played tough with Brady. And I think that has come from Steve just continuing to build year in and year out.”
Let me interject here with a semi-personal story, that I think addresses this as well as the whole Nepo Baby conversation going on in show business with Jamie Lee Curtis winning an Oscar and all that. I have a relative who was hired as a partner in a law firm. And in the first interview they had with him they said, "Here's our policy on nepotism: We're all for it." The logic being that if someone's daughter gets an internship or comes on as an associate or whatever, they're going to get her best. No one's going to take a job where their parent is a partner and start screwing around and embarrass the family. And that level of trust is invaluable.
Now as far as Steve B. goes, file this story away for future reference. Because this is a masterclass in how you handle the situation he found himself in. The very biggest mistake you can make when you find yourself way outside the perimeter fence of your comfort zone is to fake it til you make it. Particularly when you're surrounded by people who know exactly what they're doing. The best thing I ever taught myself to do in this life was to just profess my own ignorance. To ask what I should do, what's expected of me, and tell people who do know not to be afraid to explain it like I'm four years old. That approach has never, ever failed me.
It's just a weird flex for anyone to take the "I got this" approach when they clearly do not got it. Whether it comes from a place of insecurity or a need to impress people, it has the opposite effect, every single time. People respect honesty above all else. And the only ones who are taken in by dishonesty are the absolute last people you want to impress.
As far as the Patriots are concerned, this was the perfect situation for Belichick the Elder to put Belichick the Younger in. If you're going to have a first time coach in an entry-level position, this was exactly the room to walk him into. Filled with veterans who knew what they were doing. McCourty and Chung were already 29. Harmon was only 25, but was entering his fourth season. All of them had won a ring two years earlier. So Steve B. walked in and said he'd be learning from them, not the other way around. And like McCourty says, the results speak for themselves. He was coordinator on a Top 10 defense last season, and of the No. 2 scoring defense in the league the year before.
So there's a lesson to be learned for all of us here. One that, just as an aside, Matt Patricia could've benefited from this past year. The best way to start out in a new endeavor is to be humble, admit what you don't know, listen up, ask questions, and pay attention to the answers. This alone, plus the results we've seen since, tells me Steve Belichick is going to have a long, successful career in the family business.