After reaching the top of football, Eugene Chung had to return to the sport’s roots to rediscover his passion.
That’s exactly what the former NFL player and coach is doing this season at Community School of Naples. Following 10 years in the league as a coach and five as a player, Chung has moved his family to Southwest Florida and now serves as CSN’s offensive line coach and the school’s assistant director of athletic operations.
Chung has moved from coaching Super Bowl millionaires to teaching fundamentals to teens on Friday nights. And he’s doing it at a private, 300-student school that’s only had a football program for 11 years.
So far, it’s been a breath of fresh air for Chung.
“When you’re doing something for so long at a high, competitive level, you start to lose the reason why,” Chung said. “This is reminding me how much football means. It’s a great opportunity to mentor young kids who can find their way through athletics.”
“One of those serendipitous acts”
Chung, 52, has been on football’s biggest stages for more than 30 years.
Chung, who was raised in Virginia, was an All-American offensive-lineman and a Virginia Tech letterwinner for four years. He was No. 13th overall in the 1992 NFL Draft, he became the first Korean American to be drafted in the first round.
Chung played five seasons for the NFL, three with the New England Patriots, and one each with the Jacksonville Jaguars or Indianapolis Colts. He played for the Philadelphia Eagles and was their assistant offensive line coach from 2010-12.
Chung won a championship with the Eagles in 2016-19 after he had been a Kansas City Chiefs coach (2013-15). Chung was the assistant coach of the offensive line in Philadelphia’s win over the Patriots in Super Bowl LII 2017.
Chung, who had been a coach for the Eagles for 10 years, left the team after the 2019 season. Chung moved to Fort Myers, Florida with Shannon, his wife and their two children, after the coronavirus epidemic struck just a few short months later.
Shannon (Frankle Chung was raised in Fort Myers and graduated Lehigh Senior High School. She owned a house there in 2020, but so did her parents. So the Chung family moved south.
Eugene Chung also got his start at Community School because of Shannon. Don Frankle, her father, has been a photographer at the school for approximately 25 years.
“My father-in-law was always raving about this private school in Southwest Florida,” Chung said. “I was tired of hearing about it and wanted to see it myself. My jaw just hit the ground when I got to campus. It’s absolutely amazing.”
Chung was introduced to CSN head of school David Watson as well as football coach Paul Selvidio. He was ready to make a switch after a decade as coach, which saw him working almost 100-hour weeks and spending half of his time on the road. Shannon and Chung have two young children, ages 5 & 3. Chung was eager to get more family time.
“It was one of those serendipitous things,” Chung said. “With what was going on with their athletic program, their needs and my availability, the stars aligned and our plans aligned just right.”
“Time to speak up”
Chung joined Community School staff in July just in time to start preseason practices.
He made national news months earlier when he revealed that he had been made racially insensitive comments while interviewing for a job as a NFL coach. Chung claimed in May that he was told that he was “not the right minority” when it comes to the NFL’s hiring of minority coaches.
In July, following an internal investigation, the NFL said it couldn’t confirm exactly what was said to Chung and who said it. Chung said He was disappointed with the outcome of the investigation because he only had one short conversation with NFL officials and didn’t get to meet with commissioner Roger Goodell.
Chung admitted that the NFL incident played a part in his decision to quit the NFL. However, it was not a significant factor. In fact, Chung said he’d like to coach in the NFL again one day.
Instead, the coach stated that he had revealed the racial comment in order to highlight the discrimination faced by Asian Americans.
“When that surfaced, it was time for that (comment) to come out,” Chung said. “It’s something that had been said to me for many, many years in the NFL. That it was said again in 2021 was shocking to me.
“Especially with the climate in our country right now, it was time to speak up about it. I don’t want any young coach or young player to experience that.”
Chung felt shocked again after Jon Gruden’s emails to him from Las Vegas Raiders included racist and sexist language. Gruden was forced from his job by those emails.
“Comments like that don’t belong anywhere,”Chung, who knows Gruden personally, said this. “It’s very unfortunate that those things are actually being said. I just shake my head and say, ‘Why?’”
Seeing Gruden’s emails further convinced Chung that it’s time to address the racial discrimination in the NFL. The coach said he’s currently working with the league to rectify some of the issues. Chung said the results of his conversations with the NFL will be announced at a later date, but he couldn’t yet say what they will be.
“A gift to learn from him”
The Community School football team was a question mark in Southwest Florida going into the season. The Seahawks were 9-2 last year thanks to a running game averaging 249.4 yards per match.
CSN did however graduate its top running backs and four offensive linemen. It was not clear whether the young Seahawks could replicate their success in 2021.
CSN hasn’t missed a beat. The Seahawks, who are currently at 6-1, average 202.8 yard on the ground. On Friday, they face First Baptist (7-1), in a game that could decide if the No. The Seahawks will be seeded No. 1 in the regional playoffs.
How much of Selvidio’s success can he attribute to Chung and his NFL experience.
“Almost all of it,”The Seahawks coach said so.
Community School is winning this year with three offensive linemen who had never played in a game before. Two of them had never played this position before and one had never played football.
The offensive line has grown so much under Chung that Selvidio thinks two of the linemen could play in college – right tackle Austin Zimm (6-4, 205), who had never played football before, and left tackle James Shaffer (6-4, 265), who had never started before.
“(Chung is) really developing talent on the offensive line,” Selvidio said. “It’s such a gift for them to be taught by him. And the connections he has in his football network will yield high results as well (in college).”
Mathew Willey, who didn’t have a carry last year, leads Community School’s rush. Wiley averaged 112.3 yards per match.
“(Chung) also helps tremendously with the running backs,” Selvidio said. “Those guys up front and the RBs are on the same page and the results have been exceptional.”