Patriots' Jason McCourty: 'I Think We All Have Fears' Amid Potential NFL Restart

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 28, 2020

New England Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty lines up for a play against the Buffalo Bills in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Ron Schwane/Associated Press

New England Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty discussed the NFL eventually returning and the fact many of the league's players will have the same fears as the public at large amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald shared his comments:

"(Right now), it's not anything that is different than anything that's going on throughout our country. You go to the grocery store, everyone has on a mask, has on gloves. You can't go to a gas station without someone doing the same. I think in that regard, it's been normal to the practices that have gone on throughout every community. I think moving forward, I think we all have fears. I think for me, the fear of going back to work is no different than the fear of walking in a restaurant and sitting down to have dinner.

"So, I think this is something that we're all going to have to deal with. At some point, we're going to start back up, Massachusetts and every other state around the country, and some in the South have already begun to open up. So, I think as players, we're going to go through the same fears that a lot of other people in our country are going to go through. You're going to have to figure it out the best way.

"When they tell us to come back to work, we have to as individuals make sure, 'Hey, to my standard, I feel that this is safe enough. I'm ready to commit to it. I'm ready to do it.' If not, you've got to go about whatever you feel is best for your family."

McCourty suffered a groin injury last season that required surgery and appeared in just 12 games.

As a result, he has been allowed at Gillette Stadium under NFL rules that permit players who are rehabbing from an injury to do so inside team facilities. It is a rare exception in this offseason that has included closed facilities across the league, a virtual draft and a number of other adjustments.

The cornerback said he misses bonding with teammates and serving as a veteran mentor for young players and rookies like he typically does at this point of the calendar.

On Tuesday, Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports reported head coaches could return to team facilities as soon as next week. That would theoretically clear the way for players to return for minicamps at some point between June 15 and June 27 if given the clearance from public and health officials.

Robinson called having minicamps as usual would be the "biggest step to date toward keeping the 2020 NFL season on track for a regularly scheduled fall kickoff."

If the season does happen, McCourty's Patriots figure to be one of the most notable storylines since Tom Brady is now on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His departure could clear the way for another team to finally establish itself as the one to beat in the AFC, although the defense led the way last year in New England.