Ex-Patriot Devin McCourty Provides Thoughtful Insight on Leadership and Character

On October 3rd, long-time New England Patriots star safety and philanthropist Devin McCourty delivered an inspirational speech at the Hamilton Chapel. He discussed the topics of character and positive masculinity with the Belmont Hill audience. As a standout collegiate player at Rutgers, McCourty was drafted in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. Throughout his career, he has won three Super Bowls and stood out as a team captain for an impressive twelve of the thirteen seasons he played in. 

Off the field, McCourty and his twin brother, Jason, started an initiative called Tackle Sickle Cell, which has raised substantial funds over the years. After his retirement following the 2022 NFL season, he began a new career in television as a commentator for NBC’s Football Night in America while remaining dedicated to supporting research and treatment for sickle cell disease.

Under the warm lights of the Chapel, Devin McCourty spoke openly about character and positive masculinity through the lens of a professional football player. When he first joined the Patriots, he set a high standard for himself. His goal was to impress the coaches and demonstrate to his teammates that he could work hard and be accountable. After an outstanding rookie year, he was selected by his teammates to be a defensive captain alongside Patriots legends Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork. Although he did not know what he could bring to the defense, he quickly found his footing on the team and became a leader that the younger players could admire and learn from. 

When asked about character, McCourty suggested, “When you’re down, and your team is struggling, that’s when your character shows.” He brought up a recent incident involving the Washington Commanders, whose players could not execute the desired play due to physical exhaustion. Through this example, he highlighted the importance of putting in the work even when nobody is watching,  as the results will show later on. He added, “When you’re training, don’t cut corners because you may need those later. That’s character.” Furthermore, McCourty defined character as the willingness to explore new experiences and constantly challenge oneself. Whether on the football field or as a TV commentator, he embraces all kinds of setbacks and challenges. 

McCourty emphasized the importance of embracing vulnerability in the context of positive masculinity. In May 2020, he received devastating news from his wife’s doctor, revealing their baby had passed away in the womb eight months into pregnancy. At his most fragile time, he reached out to his brother, texted his group of Patriots defenders, and received an outpouring of support. Rather than holding back all of his emotions and despite the need to calm and reassure his wife, he allowed himself to cry in front of his teammates. He encouraged Belmont Hill students to embrace vulnerability and recognize that they are not alone in their struggles.

McCourty wrapped up his speech with remarks about his work as an activist in the New England Patriots organization. During the 2016 NFL season, McCourty led his team in discussing injustices in the United States, including racism and police brutality. He showed solidarity by peacefully protesting during the national anthem before every Patriots game, raising his fist, or kneeling. Before the Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles, he spoke to Jonathan Kraft, ’82, President of the New England Patriots, to publish an op-ed and be the voice of people who dedicated their lives to helping others. 

McCourty concluded his talk with a strong statement that resonates with every Belmont Hill student sitting in the Chapel,  “You have a reason to be here (at BH). A common goal. Graduate and be successful.”

Story Page