Players stand up for kids; Fouts stands in for Jackson

Devin McCourty and the Players Coalition are continuing their fight for social justice and they believe it all began moving forward when they took a knee to raise awareness that justice isn't free.

Devin McCourty has made an impact since the first day he entered the NFL nine years ago as the Patriots' first draft pick in 2010. He is a two-time Super Bowl champion, two-time Pro Bowl selection and, for the past five years, one of the team’s captains.

But as impactful as he’s been on the field, McCourty has embarked on a new way to make his presence felt by not only joining the recently created Players Coalition but serving as chairman of its Economic and Education Advancement Committee.

This week McCourty returned to the Talk of Fame Network to discuss how last season’s National Anthem controversy expanded the Players Coalition, turned its focus to issues of social justice and led him and several teammates to lobby the Massachusetts’ state legislature to raise the age for juvenile prosecutions.

McCourty said when he and other Coalition members first learned children as young as seven could be prosecuted in Massachusetts “(it) made us jump out of our seats … It shocked us all.’’

McCourty and a number of others lobbied state legislators to bring to a vote a bill designed to raise that age limit, helping to dislodge a bill for a vote that had been stuck in committee for months.

“The activists told us … just our presence helped,’’ McCourty said. “It was a good start.’’

McCourty told the Talk of Fame Network guys that the Players Coalition intends to continue such efforts on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised. He will play a significant role in deciding how to spend $89 million NFL owners have pledged to help the Coalition’s efforts over the next seven years and made clear little of this would have happened had players not begun taking a knee during the playing of the National Anthem last season.

Many fans, some owners and even President Trump expressed outrage over those protests. Texans’ owner Robert McNair recently said the playing field was “no place for political statements,’’ but McCourty told the Talk of Fame Network he disagrees.

“We all found out it’s definitely the place,’’ he said.

The place for Hall-of-Fame quarterback Dan Fouts on April 15 will be the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., when there will be a celebration of the life of former broadcaster Keith Jackson, the man known as the voice of college football. Jackson passed away earlier this year.

Fouts worked with Jackson for many years broadcasting college football, including the 2006 National Championship game between Texas and USC, Jackson’s final game. He shared with the Talk of Fame Network his remembrances of Jackson and the power of his voice.

“His voice is synonymous with college football,’’ Fouts said. “So iconic. When you hear that voice you put down the clicker and watch. That’s rare these days.’’

What was not rare was hearing Jackson make his signature, “Whoa, Nellie!’’ call. When you tune into this week’s show on SB Nation radio network or the TuneIn app, download our free podcast at iTunes or go directly to our website, talkoffamenetwork.com. Then you’ll hear Fouts recall what compelled Jackson to once direct a “Whoa Nellie!’’ at him ... on the golf course!

Also stopping by are Hall-of-Fame voter Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk to name the best Dallas Cowboys not in Canton and NFL historian John Turney of Pro Football Journal to discuss the impact the latest rules changes will have on the league.

The guys also visit Penn State this week in Talk of Fame Network’s continuing pre-draft series on the college programs that produced the most NFL talent. Penn State running back Saquon Barkley figures to be one of the draft’s highest picks later this month, but when you think of the Nittany Lions you don’t think running backs. You think linebackers, and we have the numbers to prove it.

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