Jamaica, a small island in the Caribbean has produced some of the world’s leading athletes. Former Olympic gold medalist Merlene Ottey, former world record holder Asafa Powell and Olympic triple record holder Usain Bolt are some of the world’s most loved track stars. The indomitable nature of Jamaicans however does not permit them to delimiting themselves to one sphere of endeavour in the sports arena. Jamaica has produced a number of world class footballers as well. Many will recall the former glory of the reggae boys on the road to France in 1998. Who would have imagined that this little country would have produced stars of American football as well? Indeed, American football is actually played in Jamaica, especially at the University of the West Indies Mona. Today, the country can boats its own, son of the soil, National Football NFL star, Patrick Christopher Chung.
Patrick Chung was born on August 19, 1987 in Kingston, Jamaica. His Afro-Jamaican mother, Sophia George-Chung, was a popular Jamaican reggae artist in the 1980s. Her song, “Girlie Girlie,” was a number one hit in Jamaica and made it into the Top 10 charts in the UK. In his early years, he moved to the United States and attended Rancho Cucamonga High School in Rancho Cucamonga, California where he played football as a safety and wide receiver. While at Rancho Cucamonga, he managed to become a two-time All-League pick.
Later in 2004, Chung enrolled at the University of Oregon at age 16. After redshirting in that same year, he was placed at the “rover” position in 2005. At this time, the young g player ranked second on the team with an impressive 91 tackles, including 5 solos. This led him to earning All-Pacific-10 Conference honourable mention honours in the same year. All this accomplishment earned him a spot on the Sporting News Freshman All-American Team. As the heart of the Oregon defence, the four-year starter and two-time first-team all-conference honouree continued his role as the defensive quarterback despite altering his responsibilities from rover to more of a free safety as a senior. In 2006 however, he finished third on the team with 84 tackles, two sacks, and four interceptions.
In 2009, during the second round of the NFL Draft, Chung was drafted by the New England Patriots. Subsequently, he signed with the Patriots on July 27, 2009. In his rookie season, Chung was given the opportunity to start one game. Only a month and a week after been drafted by the Patriots, Chung was credited with his first career interception after a game with the Tennessee Titans on October 18. Furthermore, he totalled eight tackles, four of which were solo.
He became a full-time starter at safety in 2010. Amazingly, in week 1, Chung set a career high of 16 tackles against the Cincinnati Bengals. Notably, in a game against the Miami Dolphins, Chung blocked both a punt and a field goal, which led to two Patriots touchdowns. Later, he was returned to an interception 51 yards for a touchdown. After two months, he added a further 13-tackle game against the Baltimore Ravens to win in overtime. Sadly, he had to forfeit the next two games after receiving a knee injury in the second quarter of the team’s Week 7 game. Chung was dominant in his return to action; in Week 10 to record 11 tackles in a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In total Chung finished 2010 having started in 13 from 14 games with 96 tackles, three interceptions, and nine passes defenced. Notably, he recorded his first blocked punt and blocked field goal at Miami; and became the first player to block a punt and field goal in the same game since Houston’s Ramon Walker vs. New England.
Jamaica’s ability to produce gifted track superstars is unquestionable. Is it the climate, the environment, the food or the culture that is responsible? Or is it the indomitable nature of the people, the very determined inner fibre of Jamaicans that makes them sporting champions? Patrick Chung represents another generation of sporting superstars to have had their roots in the great nation, Jamaica. With the NFL super bowl coming soon, Jamaicans will have yet, another son of the soil to cheer on. As they say in Jamaica, ‘we little, but we tallawah’.