Inspired by Devin McCourty, Patriots' Bill Belichick vows to do more for social justice

New England Patriots owners Robert and Jonathan Kraft donated $100,000 in safety Devin McCourty's name as part of their social-justice initiative on Tuesday night, and head coach Bill Belichick highlighted how McCourty's tireless work in that area has sparked his interest to do more.

The remarks came during a virtual fundraiser in which McCourty was honored by Boston Uncornered, an organization he has supported that redirects gang-involved youth from "street corners" to end generational urban poverty.

"Conversations across our country and within our team will help lead to paving the way for a better future. Following your lead, and the example of other incredible men on our team, I look forward to increasing my role in this process," Belichick said in taped remarks. "Healthy discussion leads to actions. And actions that you have brought to the forefront have resulted in progress."

Belichick called McCourty an "ultimate role model," adding that he is a "great example of the impact that someone can have with great wisdom, leadership, courage and passion."

They were Belichick's first public comments since the death of George Floyd, which sparked passionate conversations in the Patriots' virtual meetings. One result from those meetings was the Kraft family pledging $1 million to local grassroots organizations -- chosen in collaboration with players -- that are fighting for equity, to end systemic racism and create meaningful change.

Kraft surprised McCourty by informing him that the first $100,000 of that pledge would go to Boston Uncornered as a tribute to McCourty's work.

The virtual event, hosted by veteran reporter Andrea Kremer, included remarks from many of McCourty's current and past teammates, including quarterback Tom Brady.

"I know sometimes you wouldn't think I'd be looking up to you, because I'm a lot older than you. But the reality is, I have. I've learned more from you than you've probably ever learned from me," the 42-year-old Brady said in taped comments. "You're using all the wonderful things pro football has taught you to bring a voice to those who don't quite have the voice that we have. You fight for people that can't often fight for themselves. It's a very endearing quality about you, among other things."

McCourty, 32, is a finalist (along with his twin brother, Jason) for the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award, which will be presented at the ESPY Awards on June 21.

Kraft called him a "true champion both on and off the field" before cracking a joke toward the end of Tuesday's virtual event.

"One of the thrills when you have the privilege to own an NFL team is you get to meet people like Devin and Jason. You could even see that fellow, I forget his name, he used to play quarterback who left -- he really wishes he was still with you here. I could hear it in his voice," Kraft quipped.