Patriots

Patriots

FOXBORO -- Devin McCourty didn't want to get into detail when asked what the Patriots will do for the national anthem before Sunday's game with the Panthers. He was willing to say, however, that what they do they will do as a team. 

The Patriots had 16 players kneel for the anthem last weekend, while a smattering of others stood and linked arms. McCourty explained it's important to him that next time they be united in their actions.

"I think as players we all care for each other," he said. "We spend a lot of time in this building. You guys see us when other guys have events, no matter what the day is . . . That's not because it's mandatory. That's because we care about each other and we care about the causes that people have.

"I think that just goes to show, when we go and do something, what we do together is we go and play football and we try to do that well together. I think anything that gives us a chance to be together and unified, we want to do that. We want to do it well. I don't think that's ever changed for any player here. We've all tried to respect everybody's wishes as teammates and do what we feel is best for the team, each player in that locker room."

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Danny Amendola told reporters on Wednesday that, as far as he understood it, players would be standing together for the anthem.

 

Other players have indicated that having a unified look on the sidelines before the Texans game would have been ideal, but the timing of Donald Trump's speech last week didn't allow for much in the way of planning. There was a group of Patriots players who spoke Saturday about their reactions to Trump's Friday night speech, but unlike the Seahawks (who spent hours discussing their anthem plan on Saturday and Sunday, according to The MMQB's Peter King) or the Steelers (who King said "debated what to do at length Saturday"), they did not spend a large chunk of the weekend going back and forth on what to do. One Patriots player described what happened during the anthem last week as "kind of a heat-of-the-moment thing."

It seems as though now that the Patriots are all on the same page as far as how they'll handle what happens before the game on Sunday. 

"I think the good things for us as a team, players-wise, we wanted to meet and we wanted to be united as players," McCourty said. "I think that is the key thing. That's what we've done. We met as players and we've decided what we're going to do. I think that is the beauty of this game, us as players, when we have issues . . . it's up to us. We decided as players what we'll do moving forward and we'll try to stick to that."

McCourty is a team captain and the player who has publicly spoken the most about the topic in the Patriots locker room. He said the reaction he's heard from people since Sunday's game has run the gamut.

"Everything," he said. "I'm sure whatever you guys see is the same things we see. It's ranged from far left to far right and everything in between."

McCourty and Matthew Slater joined Patriots owner Robert Kraft on a trip to New York in order to discuss the anthem with other players, owners and commissioner Roger Goodell. Despite the uniqueness of that sit-down, McCourty said he doesn't view the ongoing onversation and everything that comes with it as a distraction. 

"I don't see this as a distraction because it's important to me," McCourty said. "It's like anything else. I've never been in a season where I only do football. I do a ton of work on sickle cell [disease] and try to work in the community so it's always been a balance. I think that is always key for us as football players. I could play my last game on Sunday and life doesn't stop. I always try to keep that balance. To me, this is another part of that balance."

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