Patrick Chung is one of the notable New England Patriots to opt-out of this coming NFL season. He says that he wanted to play, especially since he’s likely in the back end of his career, but his family’s health comes first.
“I’m in the latter end of my career, so I wanted to play football,” he told CBS This Morning this week. “But when it comes down to it, I feel that money is not that important. I have a girlfriend that’s pregnant, a baby girl coming soon, my son has a little asthma, my dad is 75 years old. I just felt like this was the best decision for my family to keep everyone safe. I don’t think it’s fair to them.”
The Patriots have had one of the most interesting offseasons in the NFL this year. The team lost legendary quarterback Tom Brady to free agency. He signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the spring. A few weeks ago, the team made the somewhat-shocking decision to bring in Cam Newton as his potential replacement.
Unless Cam returns to his 2015 form, there still isn’t a ton of hope riding on the Patriots 2020 season. That is compounded by the now-seven opt-outs, the most significant group in the NFL so far. The group includes some of the team’s most important veteran players. Plenty have floated some conspiracies about Bill Belichick directing this, or in the case of NBC Sports Patriots beat writer Tom E. Curran, that players didn’t feel like playing for a potential .500 (or worse) team given the circumstances. From his appearance on The Dan Patrick Show, via the New York Post:
“I think that a lot of those players are like, ‘Do I want to do that to go in there and go 7-9 with Jarrett Stidham or Cam Newton or whatever we’re trying to do?’ […] “If Brady was there though, I don’t think 7-9 would be in the conversation, so no, I don’t think there would be this many players opting out because they would be championship caliber.”
That Tom Brady theory did not sit well with Patrick Chung. He called Curran out via Twitter after the Dan Patrick Show appearance, saying that he sounds “like an idiot” for floating the idea.
Damn Mr. Curran. I say this with love…. you sound like a idiot. Doesn’t hurt the friendship, you’re not in the dog house. But don’t let your job corrupt your brain man. You know better than that.
— Patrick Chung (@PatrickChung23) July 30, 2020
Curran apologized to Chung. Clearly they have a pretty good working relationship, because you don’t usually see interactions like this between player and reporter.
No apologies needed my man. No hard feelings either. You know I’m chill for the most part. Wrong choice of word on my part. Just frustrated me a little. All love. Like I said no change of friendship!
— Patrick Chung (@PatrickChung23) August 1, 2020
Chung has played all but one of his 11 NFL seasons with the New England Patriots, winning three Super Bowls in that time. It does make some sense that a veteran with three rings may be more willing to make a tough decision like this than a guy still chasing his first, but that doesn’t mean that Chung wasn’t conflicted, or that he isn’t ultimately sacrificing for the good of his family at the end of the day.