Some of the circumstances of Jason McCourty’s childhood might seem like disadvantages. His father died when he was just three years old. His mother faced a tall task, raising Jason and his twin brother Devin on her own; and a car accident when the boys were young left her disabled due to knee injuries. Yet Jason says from his young perspective, everything was ideal for their little family. “We never really got a chance to get to know my father. I didn’t ever look at it as a disadvantage because my mom didn’t make it seem that way. She was tough, and if disciplinary action needed to be taken, my mom was there to do it.”
She insisted that the boys work hard in school, and she also instilled in Jason a sense of commitment. “I started Pop Warner football when I was ten,” he recounts. “We had practices every single night, and before long I was tired of going. I wanted to quit. But my mom said no way: I’d already signed up for it and started the season. She let me know that when you commit to something, you see it through.” He was glad he saw the season through – that year and later when he looked back on the experience. “My mom knew that in the long run, I’d be happier if I stayed on the team. I had fun and I had a lot of friends on the team. It taught me that quitting in the beginning isn’t always the best thing. Stick it out and you’ll see that that hard work you’re putting in at that time will start to pay off.”
Both twins went to Rutgers University and joined the football team; while Devin was red-shirted their freshman year, Jason played, but it wasn’t a spectacular season for him, he says. Not being a great success right away pushed him to try harder. “After my freshman year, I worked extremely hard to get stronger, bigger and faster. Even though my college career didn’t start that well, I didn’t give up. I put in that extra effort and continue to work hard to do well.”
Not only does he credit his mother with his happy upbringing and strong moral compass; he continues to rely on her advice to this day. “Whenever I’m going through a problem or issue, no matter what it is, I feel like I can call her and talk to her. My ability to have that relationship with her, where I feel like I can talk to her about anything, helps me to make better decisions. Without my mom, there’s no way I’d have made it as far as I have.”
At the same time, the distant memory of a loving father nudged him toward his aspirations as well. “Before I go out on the field before each game, I look up in the sky, kind of having a conversation with my dad and thanking him for everything that he did for me and Dev. Just because of him, I have the opportunity to be where I am today.”
Jason was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in 2009 as a sixth-round draft pick. That hardly made him feel like his ticket to success was written, he says. “When you’re drafted that late in the draft, the likelihood of making the team is slim. The last day of cuts, I saw the roster go from 75 players to 53 players. To still be standing and then know I’d made the team was an awesome feeling. But at the same time, throughout the process you start to build bonds and relationships with a lot of guys.
Seeing so many of them have their dreams cut short was kind of disappointing.” His brother Devin would be drafted in the first round by the New England Patriots the following year. Having embarked upon the pro football career he dreamed of ever since childhood, Jason knows how fortunate he is. “When I talk to young people, I tell them this: ‘Whatever your dream is, make sure that everything you’re doing is contributing to your opportunity to make it.’ A lot of people look at my brother and me and say, ‘Wow, you’re so successful, you’re a superstar!’ I say to that, ‘We’re just regular people who have gone through some of the same struggles that you’ve gone through. And we’ve overcome some of the same obstacles. So you can, too.’”
A fundamental belief in the importance of adhering to his core principles and values has defined the winning spirit of Jason McCourty, a superb Insightful Player® team member.
- Keep your focus on realizing your dreams, and avoid detractors who try to tell you what is and is not possible for you.
- Working hard and succeeding academically should be a top priority no matter what your goals are for the future.
- Recognize the sacrifices your parents or caretakers have made for your success.
- Once you make a commitment, follow through on it. Don’t quit once you’ve agreed to do something.
- If you’re not willing to work hard enough to succeed at a goal, you’ll lose the opportunity to someone who is.
- Treat everyone with courtesy and respect. If you don’t get along with them, minimize your interactions, but don’t give them any reason to think less of you.
- Resist the temptation to “rest on your laurels.” Enjoy the successes you meet, but remember that they are stepping stones to the next stage of accomplishment. Even after being drafted by the NFL, you still have to make the final cut to play on the team!
- Recognize — and bear gratitude for — those blessings that come from a higher power and not from anything you’ve done yourself.
- Focus more on the process than the results of what you do. Rather than thinking constantly about someday playing for the NFL, be the best player you can at whatever level you are competing.
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