There’s a big difference between being a f*** up and having a f*** up.
My inclination upon learning of Patrick Chung’s June 25 arrest for cocaine possession in Meredith, New Hampshire is that this is the latter.
We’ll see what evidence emerges to provide a clearer picture as to why the 32-year-old Chung was pinched in a drug raid in which he “possessed or had in control cocaine and did so knowingly,” according to Belknap County Assistant Attorney Keith Cormier.
Not to minimize the fact that cocaine is bad for you, ruins lives and leaves people dead, but one doesn’t generally function as capably and reliably as Chung has for the past half-decade — on the field and in the community — if he has a major drug problem. Generally.
I lean toward saying this is a personal situation for Chung. But — because his work is public — the personnel side to it is relevant.
As of now, we don’t know definitively when Bill Belichick and the Patriots knew about the arrest. I’m sure he can’t wait to tell us, but I’m presuming Belichick knew before Thursday.
So far, that hasn’t appeared to impact Chung’s standing with the team. He’s been practicing regularly (albeit with a red non-contact jersey as he recovers from rotator cuff surgery).
Also, in the past two games he’s been seemingly serving as almost a player-coach for the secondary. Chung has been in full uniform but stands on the same line with the coaches and signals in plays and shouts instructions. With Steve Belichick, who’s been the safeties coach previously, having a share in defensive playcalling, it could be that Chung is picking up some of his duties on game days.
Whether any of that changes probably depends on whether Belichick is just finding out about it as well. But my guess on that would be that he isn’t.
Ty Law, Troy Brown, Kevin Faulk, Julian Edelman and Duron Harmon are just some of the Patriots who’ve gotten in legal scrapes during Belichick’s tenure and been able to move past them quite easily and have no further issues.
For God’s sake, the owner of the team has been dealing with the fallout from his West Palm massage since February.
If you were sentient in the 1980s, the word “cocaine” carries a helluva punch because that’s when people from John Belushi to Len Bias were dropping dead from using it, the Drug War was in full swing and Nancy Reagan was pleading with America to “Just Say No.”
Almost 40 years on, weed is legal, there’s far more tolerance and understanding, it seems, for recreational drug use and the most prominent substances gnawing at the fabric of society are opioids.
In 2019, Chung will be checked on as opposed to being chucked out and that’s for the better. That’s the personal part.
As for the personnel, Chung’s case will certainly pass through the league office and will be subject to discipline which — again — will probably depend on the details of what happened. So the team could be without him for a period in 2019.
Which would be a blow because there may be no Patriots Bill Belichick respects more than Chung.
"He’s one of the best players in the league, one of the best players on our team,” Belichick said before Super Bowl 52. “He does a lot of things very well and has done them that way for a long time. We’re lucky we have him. He’s an outstanding player in all the things that he does. We put a lot on him, and he always comes through.”
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