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Thread: Long Ready to Get Started
Long Ready to Get Started
Long Ready to Get Started
Sunday, April 27, 2008
By Nick Wagoner
NEW YORK – In the minutes following the moment she officially became the mother of the second pick in the NFL Draft, Diane Long found herself on the telephone with her son’s new boss, Rams coach Scott Linehan.
But she wasn’t about to let the chance to capture the most important moment in Chris Long’s life get away. So, she did what any mother would do, she put Linehan on hold.
“It was thrilling to speak to him, he was wonderful but I had to keep putting him on hold because Chris was on stage and then the commissioner was speaking,” Diane Long said. “I said I am really sorry that I have to put my son’s new boss on hold but I really don’t know what else to do.”
Of course, Linehan understood the significance of the moment and gladly waited. For the fast, energetic Long, the waiting and months of being on hold are finally over.
After much internal debate, the Rams finally entrenched Long as their pick late Friday night. There were some semi-serious trade discussions Saturday morning, but ultimately the opportunity to add a player the caliber of Long at a position of such intense need was too great to pass up.
“At the end of the day, Chris was really what the doctor ordered not only for our defense or our football team, but for our organization, because of his ability level, he’s pretty darn good, and what he can do for a team in the defensive line, in the pass-rush part of things and being an every-down player, but just what he’ll be able to bring to the team as far as all that other stuff,” Linehan said.
To call this week dizzying for the Rams and for Long would be a vast understatement. On Thursday afternoon Long said he didn’t view the NFL Draft as a competition and was prepared to just let the chips fall where they may.
In fact, Long had spent most of the week trying to keep his Hall of Fame father, Howie Long, calm. Howie Long had been far more nervous and excitable than his son for most of the week.
“It’s ironic that he was talking me down,” Howie Long said. “But you know when it’s your kid you are a little more sensitive, you take things a little harder, and you just wish the best for him.”
Chris Long spent most of the week in New York with the other invited prospects and his mother. By the time his father arrived Friday night, he was still relatively calm. But by Saturday afternoon when the Rams came on the clock, his tune changed quite a bit.
Sitting in the green room waiting to hear his name, Long had come to terms with the fact that he really wanted to be a Ram and the moment of truth was fast approaching.
“I was nervous when the clock hit about seven minutes to go when the Rams were on the clock,” Chris Long said. “Then it kind of hit me and my heart pounded out of my chest. I just tried to hide it.”
The emotion of the Long family was difficult to hide in the moments after the Rams selected Chris. It had been a long time in the making, according to Diane Long.
Growing up in California where his father was a star for the Raiders, Long was gangly and “a bit awkward” according to his mother. The Long family relocated to Virginia when Chris was 9.
It wasn’t until he was about 14 or 15 that Long grew into his body and discovered that football was his passion.
Never was there a point where he feared the comparisons to his father or tried to live up to the expectations of what his father had done in the game.
“Chris is pretty well equipped to deal with comparisons,” Diane Long said. “Even as a kid it kind of rolled off his back. I really think he was able to find his way and never have to worry about any of that.”
As Long began to find his way in the game, the family encouraged his participation. At no point did Long buy into any kind of privileged situation, developing a passion and work ethic that was a big reason for the Rams’ selecting him.
“I’m passionate and I love the game,” Long said. “I work very hard and I’m going to have to pick it up even more to be a pro athlete and I understand that.”
After putting together an outstanding college career at Virginia, where he had his number retired, Long was widely regarded as a top prospect. Of course, he dealt with constant comparisons and questions about his famous father along the way.
As recently as Thursday, Long said he was unconcerned with where he would land and what team would take him. Somewhere, in the back of his mind, though, Long knew he wanted to be a Ram.
“I wanted to go to St. Louis the whole time,” Long said. “I had an open mind this morning when I woke up and I just tried to stay as calm as possible. When I knew that I was going to be a St. Louis Ram, it just a huge adrenaline rush. It’s the best moment of my life.”
Right after his selection, Long began making the rounds around Radio City Music Hall. One of the first people he spoke to was Rams running back Steven Jackson, who was in town for some promotional work and stopped by to say hi to his newest teammate.
After that, Long went downstairs to the media room for Round 1 of interviews. He then went to a side room for more interviews. After addressing the various Charlottesville media, Long was asked to speak to the fans in Tokyo.
As he watched his son do his final round of interviews, Howie Long crossed paths with the newest Raider, Arkansas running back Darren McFadden. Long told McFadden, “That hat looks good on you.”
In an instant, Long was done with the media session and saying his goodbyes with his parents but not before he could voice his approval in his father’s choice of headwear, a brand new Rams cap.
“That hat looks good on you, Dad,” Chris Long told his proud father.
Off into the New York afternoon he went, ready for the next chapter in what he hopes is a long NFL career that has only just begun.
“Chris is excited, he’s ready to go to work and get started,” Howie Long said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he is in the gym tonight.”
It wouldn’t surprise anyone if the gym is exactly where Long spends his draft night. After all, the time for waiting is over.
Re: Long Ready to Get StartedRight after his selection, Long began making the rounds around Radio City Music Hall. One of the first people he spoke to was Rams running back Steven Jackson, who was in town for some promotional work and stopped by to say hi to his newest teammate.
-04-28-2008 #3Ramer Guest
Re: Long Ready to Get Started
That is a cool story. I can't wait to see him crush a few QBs this season.
Re: Long Ready to Get Started
I sure hope the fact that Jake Long was signed early means we won't have to endure too much grief getting Chris inked and ready to go as soon as possible.
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