Patriots’ McCourty twins can make history with Super Bowl win

ATLANTA — New England defensive backs and twins Devin and Jason McCourty both have a lot on their minds as they prepare for Sunday’s Super Bowl matchup with the Rams.

Jason is thinking about the past and the magnets their mother, Phyllis Harrell, collected and used to post various keepsakes on the refrigerator of their childhood home in Nyack, N.Y.

Jason and Devin, the elder twin by 27 minutes, were about 12 years old and playing in the Valley Cottage Pop Warner league together.

Everything went on the fridge, from school report cards to their football schedule. It was a way for Phyllis to celebrate her youngest sons after their father, Calvin McCourty, died following an asthma attack when they were 3 years old and with their older brother, Larry White, in the military fighting in the Gulf War.

“After each game, we’d write how many touchdowns we had in the game and I remember after that season we finished with the same exact touchdowns,” Jason recalled. “I just remember practicing Pop Warner was fun. … We’d wake up early on game days and we’d go outside before games and we’d go over all the plays and we’d throw the ball to each other.”

Nineteen years later, they will again be tossing the ball around before a game, preparing to make history as the first set of twins to play on the same team in a Super Bowl.

For Jason, it is a moment he calls “surreal” after spending the first nine years of his NFL career without experiencing a playoff game. He nearly got there a few times during his eight-year stint in Tennessee, then went through “a lot of suffering” last season as a member of Cleveland’s 0-16 team.

That changed after the 2017 season when he was traded to New England and reunited with his brother, Devin, a winner of two Super Bowl rings with the Patriots.

“I look back now and being at this stage on this platform. … You couldn’t have imagined that now you’d be playing together in the biggest game of your career,” Jason said.

Devin has been Jason’s biggest fan and supporter throughout a season in which Jason appeared in 16 games for the first time since 2014.

They are rarely more than a few feet apart in the Patriots’ facility. And Devin has helped Jason quickly acclimate to and make an impact on a franchise that has given them their first opportunity to be teammates since they played together at Rutgers.

Jason wound up starting 12 games at left cornerback. He had an interception in the Patriots’ 24-12 regular-season win over Buffalo late in the regular season, which secured New England’s 10th straight AFC East title. He also had five tackles in the Patriots’ divisional-round win over the Chargers.

“I do look at it if we can win this game, win it with my brother, I don’t know what else I could do that would top that,” Devin said.

Kyle Hightower is an Associated Press writer.

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