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Super Bowl champions set to be 2019 Rutgers commencement speakers

The brothers work in philanthropy, raising money for sickle cell anemia research, on top of being Super Bowl winning NFL players.  – Photo by The Daily Targum

At the most recent Board of Governors meeting, Super Bowl LIII champions and Rutgers alumni Jason McCourty and Devin McCourty were named as this year's commencement speakers at the graduation for Rutgers—New Brunswick and Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, which will be May 19, according to Rutgers Today.

This past year, they made history as the first set of twins to not only play together in a Super Bowl, but also to win one. Both are currently players for the New England Patriots, but they have also spent time advocating for the fight against sickle cell anemia by collaborating with the Embrace Kids Foundation, which is a non-profit organization located in New Brunswick.

At the ceremony, to be held in Stadium, they will also receive honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from the University. After delivering their address, they will participate in the Heel to Heal Plus Tackle Sickle Cell 5k at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Both brothers came to Rutgers in 2005, becoming significant members of the football team. Jason McCourty graduated in 2009 and later joined the Tennessee Titans, while Devin McCourty graduated in 2010 and joined the New England Patriots. This season was the first time they played together since they were teammates at Rutgers, more than a decade ago in 2008. On social media, though, they remain together as the "McCourty twins" and have not only continued playing football, but also giving back to the community. 

They also maintain close ties with Rutgers, returning often to lead fundraising events with the Embrace Kids Foundation, which assists families whose children have cancer, sickle cell anemia or other health problems.

“Rutgers University has always been a special place to us,” Jason McCourty said, according to Rutgers Today. “The education we received on and off the field helped lay the foundation for so much of what we’ve accomplished. Returning to Rutgers now is certainly humbling and we’re grateful for the opportunity. We hope to deliver a message that will inspire the Class of 2019 to chase their own vision of success.” 

Devin McCourty said that the relationships made during his time in college were some of the most important to this day.

“Rutgers is where we launched our athletic careers and where we met our wives,” he said. “The sense of community created more than a decade ago has kept us connected to the university no matter how far we’ve traveled from New Brunswick.” 

In 2013, the two launched the program "Tackle Sickle Cell," which honored their aunt Winifred McCourty, who died from the disease this past year. The program, which aims to educate people about the disease and encourage blood donations, has organized major blood drives and fundraising events to fight against sickle cell anemia. In total, they have raised more than $1.5 million to help families battling the disease.

Jason McCourty and Devin McCourty also run football camps for kids, visit schools and children's hospitals, volunteer at community centers, support aid for disaster relief and promote food drives. They have previously advocated for causes such as criminal justice reform, fair educational funding and racial equality.

Three years ago, they were also inducted into the Rutgers University Hall of Distinguished Alumni, which is the highest honor an alumnus or alumna from the University can receive. Members of this group are chosen based on their achievements in both professional and civic life.

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