This week hasn’t been easy for Chris Long.
He’s not having difficulty transitioning to a new team in his first season with the Eagles, but his mind has been on his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, where national news has been made because of racial tensions resulting in tragic violence.
Long has made his voice and disappointment heard while focusing on training camp ahead of the 2017 season. The 32-year-old defensive end signed with the Eagles this offseason after winning a Super Bowl with the Patriots in 2016, following eight years with the Rams.
Long sat down with CSN’s Quick Slants this week to talk those topics and more. Here’s the full conversation:
Quick Slants: The Charlottesville situation. It is where you live right now and I know it hits close to home. Your thoughts on what has gone on down there with all the racial tension?
Long: Well, it’s unfortunate, for sure. It’s unfortunate to know that subculture exists in America, period. But less importantly, as a resident of Charlottesville, it’s really tough to see your city kind of get taken over and for all that hatred to manifest itself right there in your hometown, where you plan on raising your kids and your family, you grew up there. It’s a little window I think into what some minorities feel every day, dealing with hate like that. For me, I was just so angry to see it, but this was just one or two days that my hometown’s been inundated with hate. I can only imagine what it’s like to feel that those people exist all the time.
Quick Slants: OK, on to some football topics now, if you will. You come in here as a 10-year vet. Where you stand right now, do you assume the role of leadership or is that still a role that you defer to other players who have been here longer?
Long: I think leadership roles, it’s all about leading by example and leading from the front and playing football. So as far as me being a 10-year guy, I plan on playing a lot and I plan on leading on the field. If guys see the way I work and play, and they want to listen to me, the younger players, that’s great — I’m always here to help. But make no mistake about it, I came here to play ball and if I can lead along the way, that’s great, but this team’s got a lot of great leadership.
Quick Slants: How do you like it here so far?
Long: I really like it. Love the city, love the people I’ve met. The passion, it’s palpable — going down to the Linc, practicing a couple times with that big turnout, I love the atmosphere. And we’ve got good people on this team. We have good people in the locker room and I enjoy the scheme, that’s why I came here. Getting to work with guys like [Brandon Graham], [Fletcher Cox], new guys, [Tim Jernigan] coming in with me, young guy like [Derek Barnett]. We really run the gamut of experience and things we’ve been able to do in this league, and obviously, it’s a lot of fun.
Quick Slants: If you can, give us some similarities and differences between the way Bill Belichick and Doug Pederson coach.
Long: Well, I think comparing coaches is like comparing two different players. Their styles are different, the skills are different and their personalities are different. So everybody’s different. I learned so much from Bill, that was a special year for me and it was special to learn from him. I’ve been blessed to have a lot of good coaches, and now getting to see the way Doug works, and as a former player, he gets a lot of things. He’s a good person and a good coach. Just today he asked me, ‘How are you doing with everything going on at home?’ I thought that was pretty cool. He’s got high energy and when he walks in the meeting, he makes everybody feel good about working hard — and obviously, he comes from that background.
Quick Slants: Let’s talk numbers here, I know you’re chasing your dad (Howie Long), he finished with 84 sacks, you’ve got 58½. The interesting thing is after nine years, you’re actually ahead of him, I think 58-55. He got a lot in his later years, had a nine-sack season at like 33. How inspirational is that to you to think that you can keep going strong, as well, late in your career?
Long: Any time you get to be around players that play into their mid-30s — and I’ve been lucky enough to play with a couple of guys like that — it inspires you because this game is hard enough. As you get older, it becomes harder and harder, and you have to be more of a pro every day. Listen, numbers don’t drive everything I do, but you certainly look at those numbers and you’re like, ‘Hey, I’d love to chase that.’ I’ll never beat my pops, he’s got the gold jacket, but if I can kind of inch closer, that’d be nice. At 32, you never take anything for granted. It’s amazing those guys back in those days, did the two-a-days for a month before preseason. They were really tough.
Quick Slants: One final question for you. I know you’re a huge “Game of Thrones” fan. You wrote an article for Sports Illustrated and I thought it was deep. How do you like the way the plot is unfolding right now this season?
Long: We were just talking about this — the show is gripping, man. It’s almost like you’re mad at the show for leaving it where they leave it every week — they have a really good cliffhanger-way of doing things. I thought last week was cool because they were kind of assembling this dream team and you see all of your favorite characters meeting for the first time — it was pretty special. And you couldn’t follow that last episode, which was all action, with more of the same — you knew it had to be a filler, but they did a good job.