From Deflategate to the latest drama surrounding the Al Jazeera drug report, the NFL has made a habit of bringing the hammer down on players who have committed wrongdoing – or who have simply been accused of wrongdoing.
Is the NFL in a good place right now in terms of its relationship with its players?
“No,” Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I don’t know when that will happen, but I just think as players, I don’t think we truly feel that everything works out the way it should, that the pyramid from top to bottom is how it should be as far as power and all those things. But I think guys are making a living and they’re trying to survive and feed their families. So you’re doing what you have to do to try to be successful . . . but I would say right now, I wouldn’t say it’s good. It’s just surviving.”
While Tom Brady has more than survived in the NFL, he will miss the first four games of the season as a result of Deflategate.
“I think for us it was a little bit different,” McCourty said of the suspension announcement. “It really came out when we were kind of on our break time, so everyone kind of digested it differently and did it on their own. By the time we came back for training camp, it was just time to go. Guys came in just trying to get ready for the season. I think everyone is ready to step up. Jimmy’s doing well. He has a lot of trust from all his teammates. We’ll just go out there and play football.”
Brady hasn’t officially addressed the team about his four-game suspension, but the Patriots know he’s in their corner. He’ll also be itching to play once Week 5 in Cleveland rolls around.
“We had Tom’s full support,” McCourty said. He knew the team was behind him, but we also knew the best thing for us as a team was to let him deal with it and do what he had to do from the team and organization standpoint. As an individual player, there’s really nothing we can do. It’s out of our hands. We just let him handle that.”
The Patriots will rely on Jimmy Garoppolo in Brady’s absence. The 24-year-old Eastern Illinois product has attempted just 31 passes in his two-year career.
“I think he’s very poised,” McCourty said. “He’s a young guy, but he really understands what’s going on. You don’t have a better teacher in the room than Tom Brady. So a lot of similar things. I think he’s been going at it since he’s been here, learning as much as possible. For me as a defender, you just see him as poised as he can be back there in the pocket and running the offense, so we’re all excited for him to get out there and be able to play after watching for the last couple of years.”
The Patriots are striving for their 14th AFC East title in 16 seasons. They’ve won seven straight division crowns and six in a row since drafting McCourty 27th overall in 2010. The Rutgers product has known nothing but success, which he doesn’t take for granted – especially since his twin brother, Jason, has spent his entire career in Tennessee.
And never made the playoffs.
“For me, having J, he’s playing in Tennessee, I get that other side from him all the time,” McCourty said. “The things he wants to do and accomplish is all team goals. He wants to be in the playoffs. You really appreciate being here and the things we get done and the opportunities we’ve had all the years I’ve been here. So it really gives you an appreciation of success and being able to win football games. . . . To me, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Keep doing it. We’ll continue to do that and go out there and try to win as many football games as possible.”