Through his 11 seasons as a member of the New England Patriots, Patrick Chung developed a close relationship with head coach Bill Belichick. It is therefore no surprise that telling Belichick about his decision to retire was no easy task for the veteran safety and team captain.
In fact, Chung called it one of the hardest conversations he has recently had during a recent talk with reporters while attending a New England Free Jacks rugby game.
“I just went and talked to Bill,” the 33-year-old recalled via ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss. “That was probably the hardest conversation I’ve had in a while. I respect him. He respects me. It’s more than player-to-coach with me and Bill. I felt like I was letting him down, but it was something I had to do for my family and me.”
Chung’s retirement could not have come as too big a surprise to Belichick and the Patriots, though. After all, he had already opted out of the 2020 season over concerns about the Coronavirus pandemic. The writing was therefore on the wall, especially considering his age in combination with private considerations and his career up until that point.
A three-time world champion who appeared in a combined 163 regular season and playoff games for the Patriots, Chung reached the highest of highs during his time in the NFL. Belichick’s statement after his retirement also made mention of this.
“It is no accident that his teams competed for championships virtually every year of his Patriots career,” the statement read in part. “I applaud him for a remarkable career and am grateful for all he did for me and our organization.”
With his pro football career in the rear-view mirror, Chung’s focus now lies elsewhere: his family, and the aforementioned Free Jacks.
Chung is part of the franchise’s ownership, alongside fellow former Patriot Nate Ebner. Ebner actually brought his ex-teammate to the sport of rugby that Chung describes as “constant chaos.”
“There’s no ‘soft’ in rugby. In football, you have pads on. You can dive at ankles. In rugby ... chest up, grab them and you have to take the pain,” he said. “That’s what I respect about these guys. No pads. No injuries, really. Not nearly as much as football. It’s all about technique and form. In pads, you can hide it a little bit. Out here, you can’t hide it.”