By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
There’s an ongoing debate in the McCourty family — just whom is the better NFL cornerback, Jason or Devin?
“It depends on who you ask,” smiled Jason, the younger of twin siblings who will enter his fourth season this fall with the Tennessee Titans.
“Since you’re asking me, I say, ‘Me.’ I’m sure Dev would give you a totally different answer.”
Jason — 27 minutes the junior to Devin, a member of the New England Patriots — visited Martin Elementary School Tues-day as part of the 14th annual Titans Caravan that will visit Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama over a 12-day period.
Voice of the Titans Mike Keith, team mascot T-Rac and other personnel from the pro football franchise entertained students, faculty and administration at MES and presented a high-energy educational program about the importance of making good choices and living healthy.
The event was co-sponsored by Tennessee State Parks, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.
“It’s been great so far,” McCourty said of the Caravan and fan response he’d received on the second day of the tour. “The fans have been so enthusiastic and the kids have been attentive and so excited.
“I’m thrilled to be a part of it and the educational programs that go along with it.”
McCourty, a sixth-round draft pick out of Rutgers in 2009 who started 15 games last season for the Titans, addressed several topics with The Messenger and Weakley County Press prior to visiting with the youngsters.
• On his expanding role with the Titan defense after tying for the team lead in interceptions last season and ranking second on the squad with 107 tackles: “I expect to be even better this coming season because we will have had a true off-season with no lockout and time to study film and work out together.”
• On how the Titans will compensate for the loss of safety Chris Hope and cornerback Cortland Finnegan, who left via free agency: “I haven’t talked to either of those guys, but I can tell you we’ll miss them. Every guy is different and brings different elements and personalities to the team.
“Cortland was a little bit of a lightning rod for some people because of his style of play, but he gave us a spark. There may not be one particular guy who can replace him.”
• On Tennessee’s recent draft that included first-round choice Kendall Wright, a wide receiver out of Baylor, and then five of six defensive picks, including cornerback Coty Sensabaugh of Clemson and Oklahoma State safety Markelle Martin: “To be honest, I take note of who we drafted, but it really doesn’t mean a lot to me. I feel sure we picked some really good guys, but I don’t watch nearly as much college football as I used to and don’t know as much about it as I used to.”
• On his passion for the game while acknowledging now that football is a business, too: “The game itself is always going to be fun,” he said. “It’s a job, yeah, but when you can line up on Sundays and compete against the best in the world, how can that not be fun?
“The business side of it hits home some, though, like when they cut rosters from 75 down to 55. You see a lot of guys go and you wonder sometimes, ‘What if that were me? What would I do to support myself and my family?’”
• On the Titans’ chances of making the playoffs in 2012 after falling a game short of that status a year ago with a 9-7 record: “The realistic goal of everybody to get to the playoffs, and as the Giants showed last year and the Packers the year before, if you can just get to the playoffs, you have a chance to win the Super Bowl.
“Of course, you always want to win your division. That’s a goal that I believe is attainable, too.”
And on that little matter of family supremacy, McCourty expanded by explaining the close relationship he shares with brother Devin.
“We talk just about every day,” he said. “This time of the year, it’s more about family and friends, but in the season, it’s different. If we’re playing someone in his division, we talk about specific quarterbacks and receivers he’s seen, and it’s the same if New England is playing someone from our division.”
A new chapter in that sibling rivalry will be written and bragging rights earned this fall when the Titans open the regular season by hosting the Patriots Sept. 9 in Nashville.
The McCourty brothers’ mother will be in attendance and sitting in the Titans’ section, according to Jason, who says, “She tries to split her time equally between her boys, but since it’s our home game, her seats will be better on our side.
“For me, this year is first time to play my brother,” Jason said. “We usually talk a lot of football, but I’ll be careful not to give out any hints or secrets. Maybe, we won’t talk at all from the end of training camp until after we play…just this time.”
Odds are, someone will be talking plenty after the game.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 5.2.12