By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
After causing retirement speculation with cryptic comments at Super Bowl LIII Opening Night, Patriots safety Devin McCourty confirmed in a new interview with Sports Spectrum that he intends to play in 2019.
"Yeah, I'm gonna play," McCourty said.
Thoughts of possible retirement for both Devin and his twin brother Jason began when Devin told the NFL Network's Deion Sanders at Opening Night in Atlanta: "If we can win this game, win it with my brother, I don't know what else I could do that'll top that. So I'm just trying to make sure I enjoy this season and enjoy these last couple days with these guys."
McCourty eventually realized the only thing that can top a third Super Bowl ring: a fourth. Because as soon as McCourty returns to Foxborough for a 10th NFL season, his jewelry can stay at home.
"In that moment I kind of forgot - I don't play this game just to win Super Bowls," McCourty continued. "It's so much more that comes from me playing the game that I love. I think once you get a chance to step away for a couple of weeks, now you're like, 'Yeah, man, I still do want to be around these young guys that come in."
McCourty's recalling of the 2015 season, mere weeks after his first Super Bowl win, gave a glimpse into the short memory and forward thinking that in part defines the Patriots' uncannily sustained success. His drive to play for reasons even bigger than reaching football's pinnacle helps him and the Patriots plow through success in January and February football games.
"I remember coming in April and the first thing you hear from Bill [Belichick] is how much you suck and how much last year didn't matter," McCourty added. "And it kind of made you realize, 'Man, if you play this game only for Super Bowls, you're going to be very empty. Because as soon as you win it, it's all about how you can win it next year. ... I mean, I've been five times, won three times, and all anyone cares about is if we win a seventh Super Bowl for the New England organization. So you have to play for so much more."
McCourty will turn 32 years old on August 13. The veteran safety, who transitioned from cornerback after three seasons, has started every game of his NFL career and is 11 games from passing the 150 mark in his career. A team captain in every season since 2011, McCourty is one of the most highly respected players in the Patriots locker room and would have left a massive leadership void had he retired.
He's also due $9.5 million in salary and bonuses in 2019. If Bill Belichick feels McCourty's play has diminished, he may not take that number lightly. Jason McCourty is on track to become an unrestricted free agent.
Other than former second-round pick Obi Melifonwu, there's potential long-term solution at safety behind McCourty, Duron Harmon, and Patrick Chung. The Patriots are still better off riding at least one more season on their veteran trio, with McCourty once again ruddering the ship.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].