NFL facilities have just begun to reopen, and Jason McCourty is one of the few players who have been allowed inside.
The Patriots safety had groin surgery this offseason and is still rehabbing. That puts him in the sole category of players who can go to places like Gillette Stadium, and then only to work with trainers on rehab.
Normally, there would be more buzz to the place with OTAs and minicamp going on. But, as McCourty said Wednesday, it’s just a few players in similar situations to his who are in the building. The difference compared with a normal year is stark, but he’s gotten used to it.
“I guess what constitutes weird has dramatically changed throughout the last few months,” McCourty said.
He likened the way he and other players are staying distant from one another in the training rooms to how things like grocery shopping and getting gas have changed. Adopting safe practices and accepting some degree of risk both will be part of reopening, he expects.
“Moving forward, I think we all have fears,” McCourty said. “I think for me 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.”
Even going into the facility hasn’t totally broken the monotony of the shutdown, he said, because everyone in the facility has only the monotony to talk about. Aside from taking care of his children, McCourty has been playing video games and watching old games on NBA TV, such as Vince Carter and Allen Iverson battling in the 2001 Eastern Conference semifinals. That has provided some good entertainment, he said.
There has been at least one football topic to discuss this week, though: ,the impending vote on a proposal to allow teams to attempt a fourth-and-15 play instead of an onside kick up to twice per game.
McCourty has mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, as a defensive back, his competitive juices get flowing thinking about making that one stop to win a game. On the other hand, he thinks it rewards a team for being behind.
What’s clear to him, though, is why it might be appealing to the league and to fans.
“We’re in the entertainment business, and onside kick vs. a fourth and 15, that’s a lot more intriguing,” he said.