Patriots

Jason McCourty gives honest take on whether NFL, NFLPA care about player safety

Patriots

Jason McCourty sounds frustrated, and it's hard to blame him.

The New England Patriots have not had an easy couple of weeks. It started with quarterback Cam Newton testing positive for COVID-19 last week, which led to the league rescheduling the team's Week 4 game against the Kansas City Chiefs from Sunday afternoon to Monday night. The Patriots had to fly to Kansas City the day of the game, which is not ideal for many reasons.

The fact that the league made the Patriots fly on a plane, share a hotel and play a game just three days after one of their teammates tested positive was not lost on McCourty during his media availability Saturday.

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The veteran cornerback questioned whether the league and the NFLPA care enough about player safety.

"I know for myself as an older guy who tries to represent the rest of the guys in the locker room on calls this week with the (NFLPA) and trying to figure out who has our best interest in mind, I would kind of say throughout all of this the realization that it's a not a league-wide thing," McCourty said.

"It's kind of a team thing. For us in this locker room, this is what we have. Between the players, the coaches, the administration, the staff, it's up to us to kind of take care of one another to make sure physically we're all set, make sure mentally, because I think outside of here, the people that don't have to walk in our building -- whether it's the league office, whether it's the NFLPA -- they don't care.

 

"We're trying to get games played and we're trying to get the season going. So, for them, it's not about what's in our best interest, our health and safety, it's about what can we make protocol-wise that sounds good, looks good, and how can we go out there and play games."

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The Patriots canceled practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week after cornerback Stephon Gilmore tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday. Practice squad defensive lineman Bill Murray was placed on the COVID-19/reserve list this week, too.

The league rescheduled New England's Week 5 game against the Denver Broncos from Sunday afternoon to Monday evening. The Patriots were finally able to hit the practice field for the first time this week Saturday morning.

Football players are used to having a set routine each week, but as McCourty noted, the No. 1 priority during this difficult time is health and safety above all else. He's happy with how his teammates have handled the challenge of doing their job while also doing everything possible to keep each other safe.

"I would say 2020 has been challenge after challenge. We're just continuing to work our way through it. It's a challenge. It's different. It's kind of just the next thing in front of us. I feel like we've done a good job as a team with our virtual meetings, guys being locked in and doing as much as we can," McCourty said. 

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"I know guys are watching full on their own. Thanks to technology we all have iPads and can pull up film on there. We have our game plan on there, so we're able to go through it even outside of our virtual meetings. Obviously, you'd love to be around each other, you'd love to be practicing. I'd love to be in the cold tub, the hot tub and get my lift in and all those different things that you're accustomed to throughout a game week, but that wasn't available to us this week for reasons that make sense and we understand.

"It's definitely a challenge, but I think it's up to us as players to play for one another and make sure, hey, I want to go win for Steph, for Cam, Bill Murray, those guys who aren't here right now. So I'm going to do everything possible to go out and prepare myself to be as ready as possible come Monday."