McCourty: Patriots will be united in how they handle Sunday's anthem


McCourty: Patriots will be united in how they handle Sunday's anthem

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."


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."


Cooks thanks Patriots for AFC championship ring in Instagram post

Cooks thanks Patriots for AFC championship ring in Instagram post

While Brandin Cooks' tenure with the Patriots was a short one, he's still "forever grateful" for his opportunity to play in New England.

The wide receiver thanked the Patriots while showing off his AFC championship ring in an Instagram post.

Cooks was huge in the AFC championship game, racking up six receptions for 100 yards in the Patriots' 24-20 victory over the Jaguars.

The Pats traded Cooks to the Rams in April in a package that sent a first-round draft pick to New England, which turned into offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn.


Brady to Oprah on Belichick: 'We don't agree on absolutely everything'

Brady to Oprah on Belichick: 'We don't agree on absolutely everything'

Most of the highlights of Tom Brady's sit-down with Oprah Winfrey were released here and here last week before the interview was broadcast Sunday morning on Winfrey's OWN channel.

Also, in the hour-long interview, the Patriots quarterback was asked by Winfrey, amid an offseason filled with reports of tension between him and coach Bill Belichick, “Is there something going on with you and Belichick?”

“Umm, no. I mean, I love him," Brady said. "I love that he is an incredible coach, mentor for me. He’s pushed me in a lot of ways. Like everything, we don’t agree on absolutely everything, but that’s relationships.”

When Winfrey asked about his "separate training place" - the TB12 Sports Therapy Center next to Gillette Stadium that Brady and business partner and trainer Alex Guerrero have run for five years - Brady said he wouldn't characterize it as separate.

“No, I wouldn’t say that,” said Brady, who stayed away from Patriots voluntary workouts this spring, has worked out on his own with teammates, but did report for mandatory mini-camp June 5-7. “I probably do some of my own techniques a little differently than the rest of the team. The team, I would say, like most teams, is very systematic in their approach. What I learned, I guess, is different than some of the things that are systematic, but that work for me.”

Brady said he's talked about those techniques with Belichick and Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Belichick restricted Guerrero's access to the Patriots sideline and team flights last season. 

“It’s nothing that I don’t talk about with my coach and owner,” Brady said. “It is what I want to do and is what I need to be the best player I can be. Hopefully, you can support that.”

More highlights from the Brady interview: 

On why he gave up his court fight in the Deflategate case and served his NFL-imposed four-game suspension:

"Too much anxiety," Brady said. "And I realized I couldn't win." Watch that clip here: 

How this Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in February was a little easier to take than his others, watch here: