The holiday season is swiftly approaching and the NFL is taking notice. In the mid-2000s, Donovan McNabb and his mother, Mrs. McNabb, were famous for their Cambell’s Chunky Soup commercials. Now, it appears a duo is taking their crown. Jason McCourty, cornerback for the Tennessee Titans, and his mother, Phyllis, spoke with me this week about the NFL, his injury and their holiday traditions.
Jon Fisher: The first thing I noticed was your jersey, Phyllis. You have both of your sons’ teams on there. Who do you root for whenever they play each other?
Phyllis McCourty: “Just for defense. I have a safety and a cornerback, so I root for both defenses.”
Jon Fisher: We’re going to talk about gameday and holiday traditions. Jason, where did your traditions on gameday originate from? Was it back in high school or did it develop when you were at Rutgers?
Jason McCourty: “The family traditions have been there from day one. Football has been an anchor in our lives. It’s just been there. For us, our traditions have changed throughout the years. One of my NFL traditions now before every game during the national anthem, I have a conversation with my father. He passed away when Devin and myself were both three years old.”
“They’ve just changed. Devin, I know does the same thing. It’s just a cool way for us to stay connected to our father. So, the traditions have always been there and just transitioned from level to level.”
Jon Fisher: When you and your brother were both at Rutgers, did you do anything different in college?
Jason McCourty: “In high school and college, we had a special handshake that we’d do before each and every game. That was just something that developed throughout the years. In Pop Warner, we always used to wake up and go over all of our plays together. Then we’d go out and play catch and have a good time in the morning before we headed to the game.”
“We’ve had those traditions before knowing that we’ve played together our entire careers.”
Jon Fisher: How competitive was it between you and your brother?
Jason McCourty: “It’s extremely competitive for us. One thing we’ve done of a good job of was being there for one another. Throughout the years, watching his games, I love it. It’s the next best thing. I can watch him and root for him. Growing up, our basketball games were, kind of, where we had our fights. We’d go head-to-head, keep score and continue to go at it.”
“In football, we’ve been able to mold each other throughout the years and it’s been our way of competition.”
“During our bye week, one of the cool things that we actually did was — and this was the first time in our NFL careers that we had the same bye week — I had the family come down to Nashville and one of the NFL sponsors, P&G helped us shoot a video and talk about our family traditions.”
“We had a blast and during that shoot, ‘Momma Mac’ was the start of the show. Me and Dev actually got to flip the roles and had a chance to support her. She supported all of our dreams and it was cool to see her in the spotlight. She said it was really easy for her to do because what was asked of her. She got a chance to talk about her favorite products, like Gillette, Tide and Crest. That made it a lot easier and she talked about how growing up throughout the years.”
“That made it a lot easier, having twin boys, but the cool thing was watching mom steal the spotlight. As a family, we had a blast being together.”
Jon Fisher: Do you have any gameday traditions for your boys on Sunday?
Phyllis McCourty: “I always text them before the game to say, ‘Have a great game’ and say we’re always watching. Sometimes I’ll have people over and we’ll cook barbecue with chicken wings and mac and cheese. We sit around and watch the game and just have a blast.”
Jon Fisher: I’ve always thought that the family aspect was very important for all sports. What can you explain about why family is so important in sports?
Jason McCourty: “Family is so huge. Throughout sports, it’s just a game. In that game, you can learn a lot about yourself. For us, the game of football has taken us to different heights that we could never have anticipated. Like we’ve been saying with all of these traditions, our family has changed. Now, the holiday season, my mom was down here for Thanksgiving. We’re face-timing Dev about different things and we’re watching football.”
“On Christmas, my mom will most-likely be at Dev’s house and she likes to alternate. On Christmas morning, when everyone’s up, we’re FaceTiming as we open up gifts. I have a 3-year-old daughter, so the excitement on her face when we’re opening up gifts and to be apart it. Family is the most-important thing.”
[Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images]