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Patriots safety Patrick Chung, who opted out of 2020 season, announces retirement

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New England Patriots safety Patrick Chung announced Thursday he's retiring from the NFL, a reverse in course from his intention to return to the field after opting out of the 2020 season.

Chung, 33, is an 11-year veteran of the league and spent all but one season with the Patriots. He's a three-time Super Bowl champion and said in his announcement it was "time to start a new life."

Chung's announcement:

"I want to say thank you to the Patriots organization, my family, my fans, coaches, just everyone. I'm in tears writing this but I've decided to hang up the cleats. Bill, Mr. Kraft (mean mug) thank you for giving me the opportunity to play for your team for 11 years. I love you. Bill for teaching me life on and off the field, I will not forget that. To my teammates, trainers, Eq team, video guys, meal room employees, janitors, etc. I love you guys for being the rock to the organization. For cleaning up, feeding, taking care of me for 11 years. You will forever be family. But it's time to start a new life. Patriot until I die!!! Love you all"

Chung retires having started 122 of 153 regular-season games and 20 of 23 playoff games. He is the only NFL player to appear in the playoffs in each of his first 11 seasons, per ESPN.

He has 11 interceptions for 171 yards. Chung had a career year in 2010 with three interceptions for 96 yards and a touchdown. He had a career-best 96 tackles (72 solo) and four for loss.

Chung opted out of 2020 season

After signing a two-year contract extension early in the 2020 offseason, Chung opted out of playing, citing safety concerns.

"It was a tough decision," he told CBS This Morning last July. "You want to play football. I'm in the latter end of my career, but when it comes down to it, I feel money is not that important. I have a girlfriend who is pregnant, a baby girl coming soon, my son has a little asthma, my dad is 75 years old. I just felt like this was the best decision for my family to keep everyone safe. It's not over, it's just postponed a little bit."

He reportedly considered retirement last offseason. He was seen in recent weeks working out at the Patriots' facility, per ESPN, and appeared to be ready to return to the field.

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