We know how this goes. A player, in this case a prominent one, finds himself around a few different incidents, those incidents get cemented into the collective opinion of that player, and that player winds up with a reputation based on those incidents. Sometimes it’s fair, sometimes it’s not but either way, it’s hard to get rid of a reputation once it’s formed.
So it’s best to avoid the incidents altogether.
That’s the crux of the message former Patriots captain Devin McCourty, who retired this year, had for beleaguered Patriots quarterback Mac Jones, his teammate of two seasons. The below-the-belt whack on Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner in Sunday’s win in New York is not going to do much for Jones’ growing reputation for questionable on-field conduct, McCourty noted.
“I won’t call Mac a dirty player because I know him personally and I think he’s a good dude, a good kid,” McCourty said on the Greg Hill Show on WEEI radio in Boston. “But I will say he has to stop being around these incidents. It won’t matter what any former teammate says, current teammate says—like it’s getting to the point where, is it on purpose, did this happen, is it intentional? It’s not gonna matter because once you’re involved in too many of these situations, it is what it is.”
Devin McCourty: Mac Jones Is Not ‘Dirty’
For those who missed it, and that seems nearly impossible, Jones and Gardner got into a bit of a tussle following a quarterback sneak on Sunday afternoon. Gardner appeared to go after Jones out of the blue, but after the game, he explained it was because of the low blow.
“He hit me in my private parts. You know what I’m saying?” Gardner told reporters.
McCourty was firm in saying he does not think Jones is a dirty player, but he did say it will get harder and harder for those around him to defend Jones’ actions.
“We can’t come back and say, ‘No, this is what he was meant to do.’ Because there’s a lot of players that play this game and they’re not involved in any of these things,” McCourty said. “So he does need to do a better job of finding his way out of whatever it is you want to call it.”
NFL Players Pile on Mac Jones
Already, there have been players piling onto label Jones dirty this week.
Among many others, there was former Patriots defensive end Chris Long, who wrote on Twitter that Jones is a, ‘Top 5 dirtiest QB of all time.” Former Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes called Jones a, “repeat offender,” who should be fined. Eagles cornerback Darius Slay wrote, “He stay doin’ dirty sh**!”
Jaquan Brisker of the Bears, who said last season that Jones intentionally kicked him below the belt, chimed in to write on Twitter, in response to a video of the Gardner incident, “Nothing new.”
That kind of piling on is just what McCourty was talking about, of course. It’s hard to stop the snowball once it is rolling.
“All these different things,” McCourty said. “I think for anybody, you can’t keep defending the same thing. So I think he needs to do a better job. And I don’t think he’s a dirty player or a dirty person, I think somewhere along the line in his competitive edge, he’s doing things that you don’t really need to have on the football field, ever.”