FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Longtime New England Patriots safety and captain Devin McCourty said Friday that it is both "awesome" and a "little bittersweet" to see former teammates Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski playing in Super Bowl LV.
"To watch those two guys leave our team and bring everything they've learned to Tampa, a team that didn't make the playoffs last year and now is having an opportunity to win a world championship, it's been awesome to watch," McCourty said on ESPN's Get Up on Friday. "And obviously, a little bittersweet because you would rather those two guys suiting up with you on Sundays.
"But it's still awesome to see those guys going out there and doing it again. Obviously, for Tom and his legacy and what he's done in this league, he doesn't have to do any more. But to continue to watch him and his greatness, and continue to get better and better each year, it's just unbelievable."
Brady won six Super Bowl championships in New England, while Gronkowski -- who was part of the team's 2010 draft class with McCourty -- is a three-time Super Bowl champ.
The Patriots went 7-9 without Brady in 2020, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008, and McCourty was asked to what degree Brady's departure was a factor among players and coaches.
"I think as a team, organization, we moved on. But you lost Tom Brady. You lost the best quarterback in the NFL. You don't just replace that. You don't just make up for that. We definitely felt that. We lose Tom, we don't have an offseason to even begin to try to process that, and prepare and get ready. The guy's been the best quarterback in the NFL for the last two decades," McCourty said.
McCourty's remarks echoed others from the Patriots over the past week, as veteran defensive tackle Lawrence Guy told SiriusXM NFL Radio that he is rooting for Brady. Owner Robert Kraft said something similar to CBS in an interview that will air Sunday leading up to Super Bowl between the Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs.
"We were privileged to have him here for two decades, and he's one of the finest human beings I've ever met. He knows how to lead and I wish him well," Kraft said in the CBS interview.