The New England Patriots lost one of the cornerstones of the second dynasty last week: safety Patrick Chung took to social media to announce his retirement from football after 12 seasons and three Super Bowl wins. While the team did not officially make an announcement at the same time, it recognized Chung on Monday.
Along the way, head coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft released statements in his honor. The praise was universal for a player who played a key role in the team’s defense since getting selecting in the second round of the 2009 draft.
Belichick called Chung “everything a coach could want” and noted his contributions to the Patriots both on and off the field:
Patrick Chung is a special person and player, one of the pillars of our program and truly in the upper echelon of the many greats I have had the privilege to coach. It all stems from his passion for the game and tone-setting, team-first attitude. Pat’s combination of toughness, intelligence and versatility was exceptional and it enabled him to perform more roles than most any player I have ever seen. In any setting, whether in the locker room, in meetings, on the practice field, during games and in the biggest moments, Pat was everything a coach could want. It is no accident that his teams competed for championships virtually every year of his Patriots career. I applaud him for a remarkable career and am grateful for all he did for me and our organization.
As noted above, Chung originally arrived in the NFL in 2009 and spent the entirety of his four-year rookie contract with the Patriots. Over that time, the Oregon product appeared in a combined 57 regular season and playoff games for the team and served as a versatile starter in New England’s secondary that was used at both safety positions and as a slot cornerback.
Chung, who also saw regular action in the kicking game over that time, was one of the few bright spots in the Patriots’ secondary between 2009 and 2012. However, he never quite lived up to his draft status — in part due to his usage — and therefore was allowed to leave the organization in free agency to sign a three-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. Just one year later, however, he was back in New England.
With Devin McCourty firmly entrenched as the team’s starting free safety at that point in time, the Patriots were free to move Chung to a safety/linebacker-hybrid role that better suited his skillset. He blossomed in this role and developed into one of the best strong safeties in the NFL — one that appeared in 91 regular season games and 15 playoff contests over the six seasons since after return to New England.
Along the way, he played a key role in helping the team win three championships. Chung also served as a team captain during the 2018 season.
His contributions to the organization — and those in the community — were also mentioned in Robert Kraft’s statement:
For more than a decade, Patrick Chung was a versatile and valuable contributor to our team and in our community. I remember when I first met him in 2009 on the day we introduced him to the media. We talked about his love of his family and his passion for football. He had a great smile, a big personality and a relentless work ethic, which earned the respect and affection of his coaches and teammates, as well as Patriots fans everywhere. Twelve years later, Patrick retires as three-time Super Bowl Champion to spend more time with his family and pursue new passions in his life. We will be eager to welcome him back for the many alumni events and championship celebrations we will host in the future.
Chung decided to opt out of the 2020 season due to concerns about the Coronavirus pandemic. He still was able to finish his career with 176 games — 164 of them while wearing a New England uniform. His impressive tenure with the team will earn him a spot in the Patriots Hall of Fame one day.