AP NEWS

Devin McCourty calls Goodell-sponsored summit ‘unique, productive’

September 28, 2017 GMT

FOXBORO — Devin McCourty, Matthew Slater and Patriots owner Robert Kraft participated in an NFL-sponsored summit, hosted by commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday at league headquarters, that involved owners, players and executives discussing the anthem-related protests and how they pertained to racial inequality and injustice.

McCourty told reporters Thursday that he felt it was a productive meeting.

“I think it was a very unique opportunity obviously for the players, but I think both sides, and that rarely ever happens,” the Patriots safety said at Gillette Stadium. “It was, to me, it was great to take away the perspective, to see both sides. I thought it was cool just to be open from ... they were very open, we were very open with the feelings and how everything kind of went down and how we felt as players. I think it was just a great situation and opportunity that we all could sit there and just talk and throw everything out there.

“I think both sides got to walk away with an understanding of how each other felt. It wasn’t ... I know when that headline comes up it’s like we sat down and probably people think we negotiated. It was none of that. It was a big dialogue, what a lot of guys are trying to start is dialogue. I think it was obviously a step in the right direction as far as being able to talk and have dialogue about different issues and different topics. I thought that was good.”

After 16 Patriots knelt during the anthem before Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans, questions persist regarding how the team will move forward. On Thursday, McCourty stated that the team would be unified in its actions, but did not specifically say how.

“It is (important for the team to be unified), because I think as players we all care for each other,” McCourty said. “We spend a lot of time in this building. You guys see us when other guys have events no matter what the day is. There was a Mayo Bowl hosted by James White the same day as Dont’a Hightower’s event. If you went to the Mayo Bowl in the beginning, you saw a ton of guys, then if you went to the Hightower event, then you saw a lot of guys leave the Mayo Bowl and go to Hightower’s event.

“That’s not because it’s mandatory, it’s because we actually care about each other and we care about the causes that people have.

“I think that just goes to show, when we go and do something, obviously what we do together is play football. We try to do that well together. I think anything that gives us a chance to be together and unified, we want to do that and we want to do it well. I don’t think that’s ever changed for any player here. We’ve always tried to respect everybody’s wishes as teammates and do what we feel is best for the team and each player in that locker room.”

Those wishes include a need for the players to make sure their message is not distorted in the wake of president Donald Trump’s remarks last Friday that those who kneel during the anthem should be fired.

“I think the biggest thing is as players, we’ve got to keep in the forefront of what we want to get (across), the inequality,” McCourty said. “I think that’s what’s important. We’ve got to make sure this whole thing doesn’t turn into the NFL vs. Donald Trump. As players, obviously, he is whatever he is. We can probably have an hour of trying to describe that and everything he is. But I think as players, we have an agenda of what we think can be done better and we’re trying to use our platform, and I think we have to stick to that.”

Clarity of message was also the theme of comments made earlier Thursday by league spokesman Joe Lockhart in wake of Trump claiming that the owners were afraid of the players.

“There was a statement that our owners are afraid of our players and that owners requested intervention by one of our political leaders to pick this issue off,” Lockhart said. “Those statements are not accurate.”