Without apologies, Jamaicans are known to toot their own horn.
And on Super-Bowl Sunday earlier this year, Jamaicans on the island huddled in clubs, sports bars and private homes to whistle, cheer and applaud throughout the National Football League’s showdown between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots.
For most, all bets were on a winning performance from Patriots’ player number 23, Patrick Christopher Chung.
When the 27-year-old, 5 feet 11 inches, 210-pound athlete scored a tackle, it was like sprinter Usain Bolt had won another Olympic gold. And when victory recorded a final score of 28-24 for the Patriots, television viewers there added another historic entry naming the nation’s first Super-Bowl ring bearer.
Supportive of the Kingston, Jamaica–born athlete they cheered each tackle that may have enabled a touchdown to their 28-24 victory against the Seattle contenders.
Chung is one of a handful of Jamaicans to play in the much-revered Super Bowl game. He was tagged a Caribbean achiever by Caribbean Airlines’ web portal carib
With Puerto Rico’s Victor Cruz (New York Giants), Haiti’s Pierre Garcon (Washington Redskins) and Barbados’ Ramon Harewood (Baltimore Ravens) Chung joined the short list of Caribbean players to make the NFL.
“It’s something I’ve worked for my whole life,” Chung told the Portland tribune. “This is awesome.”
According to reports:“Chung was drafted by the New England Patriots in the second round (34th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft. He played four seasons with the Patriots, signed a free agency contract with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013, and subsequently returned to New England for his sixth season in the NFL.”
His road to the spotlight began when his family moved to the United States.
He was 10 years old.
His mother, Sophia George, acclaimed for her reggae hit “Girlie Girlie” and father Ronald Chung settled in Miami, Florida.
After a brief stint in Miami, the family relocated to Rancho Cucamonga, a suburb southeast of Los Angeles in California. Chung did not play organized football until he was a 13-year-old freshman at Rancho Cucamonga High.
Reportedly a fast-learner, by age 16 he was enrolled at the University of Oregon and playing the game with skill and promise.
Initially, his mother feared he would be hurt playing the rugged sport and even tried to dissuade him from playing the game.
She encouraged her athletic son to try-out for the swim team.
Chung holds the distinction of starting more games than any other defensive player in Oregon history, having started 51 straight games during his collegiate career.
But his record reveals he is “a two-time first-team All-Pac-10 selection.”
It has been widely reported that “Chung finished his Oregon Ducks college career with 384 tackles; 9 interceptions, 19 tackles for loss, 26 passes defended, and 4 sacks.”
“He caused and recovered a fumble, batted down seven passes and returned his only interception 31 yards for a touchdown,” Wikipedia states.
Early into his career he played safety for the Philadelphia Eagles.
About his heritage Chung said: “I’m not just a Jamaican. I’m from the West Indies. That means pride, hard work, and being kind to people.
The Chinese-Jamaican added: “Growing up in Jamaica teaches you about diversity.”
“It teaches you race doesn’t matter. It’s how you live life and how you treat people.”
He credits his Jamaican roots with shaping him as a hard-working, relentless NFL player.
“I realize I come from a small place,” he said, “but so many West Indians have shaped the US. I’m proud of that, and I know I can make a difference on the field. Jamaicans are fast and quick, and that helps us in football.”
Chung is proud of his Jamaican heritage.
He sports tattoos that remind him of his roots. “Kingston and August, my birthday, are on my right bicep, and Jamaica is on my left bicep.”
“I never forget my Jamaican roots.”
For Jamaicans, nationality mattered on Feb. 1 at the University of Phoenix Stadium when the Patriots became champions.
And if the Houston Texans ever make it to Super-Bowl status, linebacker Trevardo Williams, another Jamaican is anxiously waiting his time to shine.
Two years ago he was the only Caribbean person to make the NFL draft.
At that time he said: I’m always going to be a Jamaican at heart. My best memories are in Jamaica.”