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‘Family first’ - Ja-born NFL player explains decision to sit out season

Published:Tuesday | August 4, 2020 | 12:19 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter

New England Patriots’ Jamaica-born safety Patrick Chung says that his decision not to play in the 2020 National Football League (NFL) campaign was a matter of prioritising the health of his family.

The three-time Super Bowl champion is the latest NFL player to opt out of playing in the upcoming season because of coronavirus concerns. As part of the plans for the season, the league and the NFL Players Association approved plans on July 24 to opening pre-season training, while cancelling all pre-season games. The plan allowed for a seven day period after the agreement is signed to opt out of the season because of COVID-19 concerns with monetary compensation.

In an interview with CBS This Morning, Chung said while he wanted to play this year, he felt that it was too risky for him and his loved ones.

“I’m at the latter end of my career so I want to play football but when it comes down to it, I felt that money is not important, my family [is],” Chung said. “I have a girlfriend that’s pregnant, my son has a little asthma, my dad is 75 years-old. So I felt that this was the best decision for my family to keep everyone safe.”

Chung, who signed a two year extension with the Patriots in May, is the eight player from the franchise who will not play this season. Chung said that the decision was not based on whether the league could guarantee the safety of the athletes but rather a personal choice with his family in the high-risk category.


“It’s nothing to do with the league, it’s just more about people having different situations and different families. I just happen to have a certain situation where I had to make the best decision for my family and that’s what I did,” Chung added.

It was a decision that according to him was accepted and understood by his head coach Bill Bellichick and while unsure of other players’ stance on the matter, he says that it was important for them to make a decision in their best interest.

“I can’t really speak for them but like I said, everyone has different situations. Hopefully whatever they do, they make the right decision that is going to keep their family health, keep them healthy and be safe,” Chung said.

Meanwhile, Chung expressed his frustrations of black people being racially targeted and his experience since migrating from Jamaica at age 10.

“Growing up in Jamaica it’s all about how you act and how you carry yourself and that’s what really defines a person. I’ve never truly experienced something like this. It was very new to me. I started hearing the N word when I came here. I never heard that,” he said. “But being here and learning everything and seeing it, it’s a little frustrating and disheartening to see that people get judged for their skin colour.”