The New England Patriots have long prided themselves on employing strong, physical and savvy defensive backs. Few embodied that mixture of talent better than safety Patrick Chung.
On Thursday, the Pats learned that they would be losing one of their most-experienced members, as the 33-year-old Chungs announced his retirement from the NFL.
Chung utilized social media to post the following announcement:
I want to say thank you to the Patriots organization, my family, my fans, coaches, just everyone. I’m in tears writing this but I’ve decided to hang up the cleats. Bill, Mr Kraft (mean mug) thank you for giving me the opportunity to play for your team for 11 years. I love you. Bill for teaching me life on and off the field, I will not forget that. To my teammates, trainers, Eq team, video guys, meal room employees, janitors etc. I love you guys and ladies. Thank you for being the rock to the organization. For cleaning up, feeding, taking care of me for 11 years.You will forever be family. But It’s time to start a new life. Patriot until I die!!! Love you all
Originally drafted in the second-round by the Patriots in 2009, Chung appeared in a combined 57 regular season and playoff games for the team, during his first four years with the team. He became one of the Pats’ most versatile members of their secondary; used at both safety positions and as a slot cornerback. He was also a regular contributor on special teams, seeing action on kicking units. Still, Chung’s time in New England was met with mixed reaction, due in part to both sides not quite effectively utilizing his strengths. As such, Chung left the Patriots via free agency prior to the 2013 season, signing a three-year, $10 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Chung’s lone season in Philadelphia did not exactly live up to expectation. He was released by the Eagles, after starting 10 of 12 games in 2013. Shortly thereafter, Chung returned to New England, where Bill Belichick and the Pats’ defensive coaching staff would place him in the proper situation to showcase his skillset. To Chung’s credit, he embraced the role of hybrid linebacker/safety, providing strong pass-defense, along with blanket coverage of opposing tight ends. During his second tour of duty with New England, he played 91 regular season games and 15 playoff games. Chung played a key role in helping the team win three Super Bowls, and was considered one of the best strong safeties in the NFL for much of that span.
Prior to the 2020 season, Chung chose to opt-out amidst the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite persistent rumors that his playing status for 2021 might be in question, Chung gave several indications on social media that he was planning on playing for the Pats during the upcoming season. However, on Thursday, Chung made the best decision for himself, and his family. He leaves the NFL having played 153 total games, 11 career interceptions, and one touchdown. His strength, field awareness and skill will be sorely missed by the Patriots on the field.
Yet, the most prominent impact Chung had on his teammates was setting an example of hard work and perseverance. While his first stint with New England may have been considered an underachievement, Chung fought to improve his skills and became a better student of the game. He parlayed that work ethic into an impressive career that should, someday, earn him a Red Jacket in the Patriots Hall of Fame.
Sometimes, the greatest gift that can be given to an athlete is a second chance. Patrick Chung got that chance. He utilized it as well as anyone.
Congratulations to Pat on a great career, and best wishes in all of his future endeavors.
-Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and Columnist for Full Press Coverage. He covers the New England Patriots and provides NFL editorial content. He is also the host of the Locked On Patriots podcast. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC