Jason McCourty

'What it's all about': McCourty twins donate to local Pop Warner team in need ahead of national championship

'What it's all about': McCourty twins donate to local Pop Warner team in need ahead of national championship

FOXBORO -- Devin McCourty and Jason McCourty get a number of requests throughout the course of a given year. They can't act on all of them, but one popped up on their shared Twitter account recently that caught their attention.

The Lawrence 10U Pop Warner team was on the verge of something special, but they needed a hand. They were one game away from having a chance to go to Orlando to compete for the Pop Warner national championship, but they were looking for help with funding.

"I looked into it and saw before the season they almost lost the team, I guess," Devin said. "They didn't have enough money. So they raised money for the team. If they lost [before going to Orlando], they were just going to put the money back into the organization. So we both sent checks to them figuring if they win, they go. If not, it'll help them going into next year. They won."

According to Bill Burt of The Eagle-Tribune, the McCourty's sent $5,000 apiece that would help the team cover expenses to go to Orlando.

"I was going back and forth with them on Twitter, and they offered to help," coach Ryan Mustapha told the Eagle-Tribune. "I was in shock . . . They loved our story, that we're a [urban] team in a struggling city. This really, really helps us going forward."

Devin McCourty, now in his 10th NFL season, has made a point to be involved in the community in a number of ways since his rookie season. Since Jason arrived to the team in the spring of 2018, he's been all-in on a number of local causes alongside his twin.

Their Tackle Sickle Cell campaign works to raise money, awareness and increase blood donations to fight against sickle cell disease. They helped head up the Social Justice Fund, established by Patriots players, which helped raise $450,000 in grants that went to five different organizations doing work in the areas of social justice and equality. The McCourtys were also very vocal in their support for the Student Opportunity Act, an overhaul of the state's funding formula for public education that was approved last month and promises to infuse $1.5 billion into school districts over the next seven years. 

For the McCourtys, their work away from the field has allowed them to become more familiar with a place like Lawrence.

"I thought it was cool. Just from all the stuff we've been doing, hearing about different areas of Massachusetts -- I've been here 10 years but I'm not from Massachusetts," Devin said. "Just hearing of different areas and knowing some of the struggles, the city of Lawrence. For some of these kids, this may be one of the best experiences of their childhood, to be able to go to Disney and compete for a national championship. And it's fitting because it's in Title Town . . .

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"To me, sometimes you hear things, and it just aligns with everything. I remember growing up and wanting to go to Disney and seeing that on TV. Soon as we saw it, we both screen-shotted it because that makes sense to us. I think that's what I've learned since I've been in the league. You gotta just do things that you're passionate about. A lot of requests that people give us are good things, but not everything is something you'd be passionate about."

Finding those passions and diving in head-first, Devin said, is "what it's all about."

"I think it's pretty sad if football only meant the games you played, the recognition you get from playing a sport," he said. "I think especially when you think about it growing up, I wasn't the best player growing up. I only had one offer coming out of high school. There were other guys in my area that were better and then obviously as you go, as you reach further out, kids get better. I think when you get blessed with an opportunity, it's for a reason. I think the reason is to make a difference off the field. 

"As professional athletes, it's sad, but we could say the same things that teachers, parents say to kids and they'll listen more because they'll think what we're saying means more. I think that's a responsibility that's very important. It's something you gotta take seriously. But I think it's also something you have to be proud of to have that opportunity to be a role model to kids who might have a similar background to you. Sometimes worse. You can be an inspiration, give them hope. 

"In a situation like this, you can bless them with funds. They don't care about the money, but they'll remember the memories and the fact that a professional football player took the time to invest in them. I hope means more to them as they get older and realize, 'I am important, I can accomplish things that I might not see people doing right outside my window, but I can accomplish things because there are people out there that care and want to invest in me and see me do good things.' "

The McCourtys played Pop Warner for the Valley Cottage Indians in Nyack, New York. They lost in the state championship as 12-year-olds, Devin told reporters earlier this season. "You don’t forget," he said at the time, "any time you play for a championship and you don’t win it." But the memory of playing on that team -- and competing against fellow future NFL players Ray Rice and Tyvon Branch -- remains a strong one. 

That's part of the reason why the McCourtys wanted to help the Lawrence 10U team. Devin, who tries to inspire Patriots defensive backs immediately before every game with a few words, even recorded a video to be played for the Lawrence players before their first game in Florida. 

"I basically told them to go have fun," he said. "That's what it's about. To have the opportunity to go out there and compete for a championship, but compete for a championship with guys that are your friends, guys you enjoy playing with. 

"So somewhat [like a Patriots pregame speech]. Just not yelling and screaming."

After beating Northbridge, New Jersey, and Proviso Township, Illinois, in the semifinal earlier this week, the Lawrence 10U team will compete for the national title against Palmetto, Florida, on Saturday at 9:30 a.m.

Patriots vs. Bengals injury report: Edelman, Sanu, Jason McCourty questionable

Patriots vs. Bengals injury report: Edelman, Sanu, Jason McCourty questionable

Tom Brady officially is off the New England Patriots Week 15 injury report.

While Brady has said his right elbow has needed extra treatment this week,  the quarterback was removed from when the Pats released their final injury report ahead of their matchup with the Bengals on Sunday in Cincinnati. Still on the report and listed as questionable are wide receivers Julian Edelman (knee/shoulder) and Mohamed Sanu (ankle), who are key parts of an already-struggling offense don't take the field. Cornerback Jason McCourty is also among those listed as questionable with a groin injury. No Patriots are listed as out. 

Bengals WR A.J. Green is listed as out with an ankle injury and DT Rennel Wren also is out with a hip injury. 

Here is the full injury report:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (10-3)

OUT
None.

DOUBTFUL
None.

QUESTIONABLE
LB Ja'Whaun Bentley, Knee (limited participation in practice)
DL Byron Cowart, Concussion (LP)
WR Julian Edelman, Knee / Shoulder (LP)
OL Ted Karras, Knee (LP)
CB Jason McCourty, Groin (LP)
WR Mohamed Sanu, Ankle (LP)
DL Danny Shelton, Shoulder (LP)

CINCINNATI BENGALS (1-12)

OUT
WR A.J. Green, Ankle (Did not participate in practice)
DT Rennel Wren, Hip (DNP)

DOUBTFUL
None.

QUESTIONABLE
CB Darqueze Dennard, Illness (DNP)

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET as the Patriots look to get back on track after back-to-back losses. 

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Patriots downgrade CB Jason McCourty, DL Byron Cowart to out vs. Texans

Patriots downgrade CB Jason McCourty, DL Byron Cowart to out vs. Texans

The New England Patriots had 17 players listed as questionable on their Friday injury report. And on Saturday, two were officially downgraded to out.

According to the Patriots official Twitter account, cornerback Jason McCourty and defensive lineman Byron Cowart won't play for the Patriots against the Houston Texans.

McCourty, the starting No. 2 cornerback on the Patriots will miss his second consecutive game with a groin injury. J.C. Jackson will likely start in his place. 

Jackson has played in 11 games this season with one start. He has two interceptions on the season, both of which came against the Buffalo Bills in Week 4.

As for Cowart, the fifth-round pick out of Maryland was active for his fifth game last week against the Dallas Cowboys. He only played in three defensive snaps before exiting with the head injury that will sideline him this week.

Though the Patriots will be without McCourty and Cowart, it's looking possible that they could have the services of receivers Mohamed Sanu (ankle) and Phillip Dorsett (concussion), per ESPN's Mike Reiss. Both are traveling with the team after being inactive last week. But if they can play this week, the Patriots will have much more depth at the receiver position.

Another positive of the injury report: none of the players dealing with illnesses were downgraded to out for the game. The only sick player to be declared out so far is third-string tight end Ryan Izzo.

Tom E. Curran's Patriots-Texans preview>>>

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