Fans enjoy time with McCourty

February, 15, 2011
2/15/11
10:05
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Cornerback Devin McCourty was the featured guest at the Patriots Hall of Fame speaker series Tuesday night, as he entertained a crowd of approximately 150 fans with stories of his draft preparation, behind-the-scenes happenings with the Patriots, and personal tales that included his failed attempts to cook.

The intimate gathering had a small "town meeting" type feel to it, with McCourty -- wearing blue jeans and a T-Shirt with the words "Be True" on the front-- sitting on a high chair and holding a microphone as he answered questions in a Q&A format.

Those in attendance learned things such as McCourty deciding to live close to the stadium in Foxborough; thinking he would be drafted by the New York Jets; his jersey No. 32 having a connection to his Pop Warner days when he and his brother Jason wore 32 and 33; that he was a big Dallas Cowboys fan growing up; and that his favorite interception was the one against the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving.

McCourty also had the crowd laughing when he told the story of when he got the call from the Patriots saying they were drafting him, but he was in the bathroom.

"It's just cool to meet the players one-on-one," said Bryan Ricard of Providence. "You realize they are people just like us. He's still excited to be in the NFL."

Joe Pascone, who attended with Ricard, appreciated the insight that McCourty provided on head coach Bill Belichick.

"It was interesting to hear him talk about how Belichick was completely different than what he portrays to the media and the fans," said Pascone, who hails from Johnston, RI. "It's nice to hear that he has that sense of humor and he's different with the players."

As part of the event, McCourty re-told the story of watching film with Belichick at Rutgers leading up to the draft. McCourty didn't think it went very well because Belichick didn't say much.

McCourty also told the story of when Belichick spoke to the Rutgers football team and how McCourty remembered two words Belichick said that day -- "performance" and "attitude." That was one of the favorite parts of the night for Bob Hyldburg, author of Total Patriots.

Adam Mendes and Alex Avila, seniors at Seekonk (Mass.) High School, liked the behind the scenes stories McCourty told.

"I liked picking the brain of an NFL player and how he described what it was like inside the locker room, what fans don't see," Avila said.

Webster Barrett of Quinebaug, Conn., who attended with his 13-year-old son Kyle, has been a regular at the Hall's Speaker Series over the last few years.

"I was happy to see how laid-back he is. He had a lot of success this year and I was going to ask him what keeps him grounded after a year like that, but hearing him talk I didn't need to ask the question," Barrett said of McCourty. "He seems to be very down to earth."

Mary Harris of Quincy, Mass., got a similar vibe from listening to McCourty.

"I asked about which interception was his favorite and instead of picking a big-name [quarterback] and taking it for his own personal gratification, he picked the Detroit game because it helped his team turn around the game," Harris said. "That was important to me, because it showed it's not about the stats for him. It's about the team for him."

Harris attended the event with Tom Keady, who felt McCourty represented the perfect Patriot.

"Hearing him speak, I can see why Belichick took him in the first round. He's been here just about 11 months, but it sounds like he's been here a lot longer," he said. "I liked hearing the inside knowledge and how he talked about the film study and Bill Belichick comparing him to Ray Lewis; that Devin can look at the film and analyze it like that."

Matt Peters, a student at UMass-Lowell, liked when McCourty spoke about his faith and the role it's played in his career. His friend, Dan Sousa, was also impressed, saying he was unaware of what players go through leading up to the draft.

Marie Parsons, of the website Pats Pulpit, felt like she learned more about McCourty from listening to him talk for almost two hours.

"This is the kind of player you'd love to clone and have at every position -- intelligent, talented, and just a good young man," she said. "It gives me confidence in the team."

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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