New England safety Patrick Chung was at home Saturday afternoon watching Houston beat Cincinnati in the AFC wild-card playoff round. And his 2-year-old son desperately wanted one more cookie.
Chung’s biggest quandary at that moment wasn’t whether the Patriots would be playing the Texans, Colts or Ravens in the AFC divisional playoffs. It was whether his boy preferred chocolate chip or Oreo.
Certainly even Patriots coach Bill Belichick could forgive Chung for taking his mind off the ball momentarily on this day, unless Chung’s son was playing with it.
“I’m not trying to talk much football right now. I’m just trying to enjoy this day,” he told Playbook. “As far as me, right now, it’s all about coming home, getting to relax and spend time with my wife and son. I’m still focused and watching the games, but my son is on my shoulder right now. The little man keeps you busy. He’s my best friend.”
AFC East champion New England (12-4) hammered Houston (13-4) four weeks ago Monday at Gillette Stadium 42-14. Before Chung gets to this Sunday’s rematch in Foxborough, Mass., following New England’s playoff bye, he has one more piece of important family business to handle with his wife, Cecilia. They will officially launch the Chung Changing Lives foundation with an invitation-only fundraiser in Westwood, Mass., outside of Boston on Monday night.
The purpose of Chung’s foundation is simple: “To help kids, period.”
“Some kids are less fortunate. Others, who are fortunate, lack in other areas. We’re here to help children through education, sports, the arts, after-school programs to keep kids out of trouble. Whatever we can do,” Chung said. The foundation hasn’t chosen any specific programs to aid as of yet. “We’re just getting started, thinking over things we can do.”
Chung has a broad vision for his foundation, seeing it eventually spreading from its base in Massachusetts to having a nationwide presence. He already has received financial support from his teammates, including defensive lineman Vince Wilfork.
“It was important to get my teammates involved. He [Wilfork] didn’t ask for anything. He was just: ‘I got you, man.’ It’s like a brotherhood almost in the locker room,” Chung said. “If they need something and I can help, I’m going to do it. If I need something and they can help, they’re going to help. It’s kind of a family.”
Two weeks ago, Chung was a celebrity charity bartender with Milan Lucic of the Bruins and, in 2012, Chung participated in the “Boston vs. Bullies” campaign with several other of the city’s pro athletes.
Athletics, music and academics have played a strong role in Chung’s life. He’s in his fourth season with the Patriots, who drafted him in 2009 and signed him to a four-year, $5 million contract. He enrolled at the University of Oregon and was practicing with the Ducks at age 16. He’s also the son of Jamaican reggae singer Sophie George and has a brother who is a choreographer and ballet teacher. In November, Chung sang a solo with the Boston Children’s Chorus during the Patriots’ regular-season bye week, performing Aaron Copland’s “The Boatmen’s Dance.”
“That was nerve-wracking. My mom told me not to worry about it,” Chung said. “But my nerves were just running crazy. The kids made it look easier than it was. It was like I was a little kid singing again.”
Despite Chung’s musical genes, he won’t be appearing on “American Idol” this or any other season.
“I’m a football player who likes music. Football is No. 1. Music is a hobby. It helps me blank my mind when I get an hour to relax. [With the foundation], that’s exactly what we want to do,” he said. “If you want to do music and can’t, we’ll have the connections to make it happen and make those dreams come true. If you want to learn sports, play football, we’ll help you out.”