It should come as no surprise that, despite not playing football this year, Patriots safety Patrick Chung has managed to keep busy.
“I’ve always been a person that can’t sit down,” he said via telephone last week.
Chung, one of eight Patriots to opt out of the 2020 NFL season amid the coronavirus pandemic, has used his time away to pursue a new venture, recently cofounding a commercial real estate company, MJW Developments, with longtime friend Matthew Weymouth.
The partnership is the culmination of “10-year thought” for Chung, who, while in the league, has started to dip his toes into a variety of business endeavors. In February, he and former teammate Nate Ebner became part-owners of the New England Free Jacks, Weymouth’s Major League Rugby club. Chung has also stayed active in the local restaurant industry, once serving as the general manager at Ocean Prime Boston in 2018.
“It’s like football,” Chung said. “The more versatile you are, the more valuable you can be.”
Now, Chung and Weymouth have launched a full-service commercial real estate company that specializes in single-tenant retail but is able to assist with a wide range of client needs, from leasing and brokerage, to site selection, to expansion plans.
The pair doesn’t want to operate like an “old-school developer,” or one that drives up rent prices, which, in turn, affects prices for consumers. Given the economic aftermath of the coronavirus, along with their altruistic interests, they intend to strike deals that overwhelmingly favor their clients. A portion of the money earned will also be donated to nonprofit organizations.
“The main thing for me is, and I know it sounds cliché and people lie about these things all the time, but this is who I am,” Chung said. “I want to be able to help people. There’s a lot of people that take advantage of others. That’s not what we do.”
For Chung, MJW is not only a way for him to give back to the community, but also a potential opportunity for life after the NFL. In May, Chung agreed to a two-year contract extension that will keep him in New England through the 2023 season, but at 33 years old, he is well aware that his playing career will soon come to an end.
“Football doesn’t last forever,” he said. “We know that. This is something I could see myself doing after football. In a couple years.”
When he’s not working on his new business venture, Chung has stayed rather low-key. After all, the primary reason he opted out of the season was to protect his 10-year-old son Taj, who has a bit of asthma; his girlfriend Regan, who just gave birth to the couple’s daughter in September; and his 75-year-old father.
With Taj, Chung says he tries to ensure the grade-schooler is not just “playing video games all damn day” and does his best to help him manage remote learning. With his daughter, he’s just trying to get a good night’s sleep, something that’s been hard to come by.
“Newborn babies don’t like to sleep,” Chung laughed. “Finally got six hours straight the other day, and it was heaven. Last night, she was waking up every hour.”
Fellow Patriots safety Devin McCourty can confirm.
“He’s even sent some videos of his baby girl crying and everything,” McCourty said Wednesday. “But from my knowledge, he’s doing well and he’s enjoying some of the free time of being a new girl-dad.”
Chung has kept in touch with other teammates during his time away, most frequently with former locker neighbor Jonathan Jones, whom he talks to nearly every day.
At the end of October, Chung also organized a “Fat Friday” for the players, collaborating with Parker’s Pub in Wrentham to prepare a full slate of food, including oxtail, crab legs, and fried chicken sandwiches. McCourty and long snapper Joe Cardona gave the meal a ringing endorsement.
Cooking has long been one of Chung’s favorite hobbies, and opening up his own restaurant is on his radar as a possibility for the future.
“That’s something I have a passion for also,” he said. “Cooking food, bringing people together. It’s like Thanksgiving. Once food is around, people are happy.”
For now, though, Chung is all-in on his new real estate company. Family dominates the majority of his free time, though he noted his billiards game has gone to the next level, too. Other than that, Chung expressed an interest in staying open-minded to whatever could come next.
“Learning is the key to life,” he said. “I want to be learning for the rest of my life. People, they get content, they get complacent, like, ‘I’m good at this, so I’m just going to stick with this.’ But there’s going to come a time where you can’t do that anymore. You have to be able to be good at other things also.”
Nicole Yang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.