McCourty's wild Steve Belichick story highlights Patriots' nepotism originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
If you thought Matt Patricia was in over his head as the New England Patriots' offensive play-caller last season, Devin McCourty has a story for you.
During an appearance on the "Green Light" podcast with former NFL defensive end Chris Long, the retired Patriots safety shared an eye-opening story about Steve Belichick -- the son of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick -- taking over as New England's safeties coach prior to the 2016 season.
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"The one thing that I’ve loved about Steve is his honesty," McCourty told Long. "I remember Steve takes over (after) Pat Graham left, (Brian Flores) is moving to linebackers coach, and Steve said Bill (Belichick) tells him two weeks before the offseason program starts that he’s going to be the safeties coach.
"Now he’s walking in the room, it’s me, Pat Chung, Duron Harmon, Nate Ebner. We’ve got all these veterans -- I’m older than Steve, Pat’s older than Steve, (Steve) played with Duron (at Rutgers) and he’s probably the same age as Nate -- and he walks in and goes, 'Yo, I’m going to be honest with y’all. I don’t know what the f--- I’m doing right now. My dad told me two weeks ago that I was even going to have this job.'
"And now I’m just sitting here like, ‘I don’t know, what’s next?’ And that first year, we all just worked together."
The point of McCourty's story was to emphasize how much Steve Belichick has grown; the Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl that season, and Steve since has expanded his responsibilities to essentially become co-defensive coordinator alongside Jerod Mayo.
“So now when I look at him, I think his growth has come because of the honesty," McCourty added. "Not coming in saying, ‘My dad is Bill Belichick. I was born to coach. I’m going to do this.' No, he came in and was like, 'I’m going to learn from some veterans that l’ve got in this room, take advantage of that opportunity that I get, and I’m going to grow as a coach.'"
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That's a good mindset for Steve to adopt, and it's certainly helped him improve as a coach. But McCourty's story also highlights the blatant nepotism that led to Steve getting the opportunity in the first place.
While we don't know what the market for safeties coaches looked like in 2016, we'd imagine there were plenty of candidates more qualified than Steve Belichick -- who had zero experience in that role and was told by his father that he'd be taking the job. Steve became the Patriots' safeties coach because his last name is Belichick, while it appears other candidates weren't even considered.
Nepotism in the NFL expands far beyond New England, but it's certainly prevalent in Foxboro, where Bill Belichick's other son, Brian, is also on staff as the current safeties coach. It was hard to quibble with how Belichick built out his staff when the Patriots were winning Super Bowls, but considering the team hasn't won a playoff game since 2018, it might be time to think outside the box.