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Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty: NFL locker rooms give players an ‘opportunity to uncomfortably have discussions’ on social issues

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Related: McCourty twins host roundtable to discuss social issues, current protests

New England Patriots v New York Jets Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

Jason McCourty has been among the most vocal players on the New England Patriots’ roster since protests against inequality, racism and police brutality began in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis last month. Together with his twin brother and fellow Patriots defensive back Devin, he has hosted a round table to discuss social issues and also has been an outspoken critic of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees’ statements on player protests.

On Thursday, McCourty appeared on CNN’s New Day to speak about the social unrest all over the United States, and to share his opinion on what kind of impact they might have on NFL locker rooms once players are allowed to return.

“I think it’s going to be an opportunity to uncomfortably have these discussions and to be able to really feel what each and every person in the locker room has gone through,” said the 32-year-old. “Not only myself, but there are so many guys within the locker room from so many different backgrounds, races, demographics. That allows us a special moment, to be a melting pot. And really in that situation, to really be able to care for one another and be able to understand and talk to each other about what our journey has been like.

“I think that’s the unique setting that we have within the locker room that — we all have a common goal,” McCourty continued. “We all want to do something special on the field. But at the same time, we have a responsibility to get to know each other and build on things we can do in the community. So, I’m excited to see what the locker room will be like when you have 90 guys that are willing to care for one another and be able to make change together.”

The McCourty twins have been active members in the community ever since arriving in New England in 2010 (Devin) and 2018 (Jason), respectively. From advocating for criminal justice reform to helping improve Massachusetts’ public education system, they have been on the frontlines to help bring social change — efforts that have recently earned the them a nomination for the prestigious Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award.

As for their role in the locker room and the general culture that can be found within it, McCourty is positive that all players are willing to respect one another.

“I think there are different levels of caring,” he said. “I think we will have some guys that are willing to be on the front lines —guys like Malcolm Jenkins, Demario Davis, that are willing to speak up and say ‘Hey, there’s a problem and I want to help change it. I want to be a vessel to keep this thing moving and see change.’ And you’re going to have some guys that [...] may not be willing to step in front of the camera and do things of that nature.”

“But they respect the fact that somebody is doing and they understand the point of view they are doing it from,” he continued. “I think that’s what’s important, that’s what shows respect to your teammates and shows respect to just being on a team and understanding that we’re all different individuals, special in our own rights.”

It remains to be seen when the Patriots’ players will get a chance to reconvene in the locker room again, however, and have the in-person discussions McCourty spoke about. With the ongoing Coronavirus crisis forcing the NFL to slowly reopen, there is a chance that players will not return to team facilities like New England’s Gillette Stadium before the scheduled start of training camp in late July.