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  1. #1
    TekeRam's Avatar
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    My vote for our #1 pick

    Son Emerges From Long Shadow
    By Adam Kilgore
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Friday, October 19, 2007; E01

    CHARLOTTESVILLE
    Chris Long is running alone under the floodlights at the Virginia football team's practice field. The rest of his teammates have walked off the field and into the locker room, content to be done with their first practice of the preseason. Stripped down to a pair of gray spandex shorts and soaked in sweat, with blades of grass sticking to his body in the thick summer air, Long sprints up and down the field.
    He's running because in a few weeks, he'll play a mile above sea level for the first time at Wyoming, and as a third-year starter and the current face of the team, he needs to be ready. He's running because he finds out what everyone else does, and then he does more. He's running because of the tattoo on his back that's almost too small to see: small, green letters that spell "PRIDE."
    He's running because he has discovered that upholding his own reputation is even more difficult than escaping family comparisons. He is no longer Howie's kid, son of a Hall of Famer; he is one of the best college football players in the country, a lock to be one of the first 10 players picked in the NFL draft.
    Mostly, though, Chris Long is running for the same reason his father did years ago. He is afraid.
    "Fear of failure," Long said. "I have the same fears that he does. That's the eerie part. We both are petrified of coming out and getting embarrassed. You've got to take pride in what you do. People are counting on you -- teammates are counting on you, fans are counting on you. If you go 100 miles an hour, at least at the end of the day, you worked yourself silly out there. That's all you can do."
    Famous Father
    It's almost midnight this past Monday, and Long is at CVS with Clint Sintim, his roommate and an outside linebacker. They need a new alarm clock for their house, but Sintim plans to get more out of the trip.
    "This is Chris Long!" Sintim shouts, running behind an aisle to hide. He won't let up. "Number 91! Howie Long's son! Son of a Hall of Famer!"
    Long can be brutal when he needles his friends, always needing to get in the last joke. This is their recourse. Aaron Grossman, Long's one roommate who does not play football, walks up to strangers and says, "Do you know this is Howie Long's son?"
    Long blushes, like he always does, but he laughs, too. He tells them to cut it out, but doesn't seem to mean it.
    "We wouldn't do it any other way," Grossman said. "He's not 'Howie Long's Son' anymore. He's Chris Long. The joke is just a joke."
    Growing up, Long was oblivious to his father's fame. He rarely even watched him play. As he reached high school, though, the idea of following his father began to weigh on him. It made him not want to play football at all.
    "That's a heck of a thing to compete with," Long said. "I kind of resented it."
    Genetics made the comparisons unavoidable. Howie and Chris were each born with six fingers on one hand. They share that granite jaw line. The first time John Blake, Long's coach at Charlottesville's St. Anne's-Belfield School, watched Long crouch into a stance, he blurted: "Oh, my God. That's his dad."
    Long was afraid when his name landed atop recruiting charts. Was he getting credit only because of who his dad was? After his basketball games, Chris retreated to the basement at St. Anne's-Belfield. Still wearing his uniform, he would do power clean lifts. He'd call Blake and ask to run on the practice field. He worked harder than anyone Blake had ever coached. Yet he still struggled with his father's legacy.
    Long had several long talks with Blake, wrestling with his father's impact on his career. "Your dad is never going to play another down of football," Blake told him. More and more, Long realized Howie had nothing to do with his results on the field.
    "After a while, it's not a competition," Long said. "It's not a shadow I need to move out of or anything like that. Once I found out this is what I'm passionate about, this is what I'm good at, I just welcomed that with open arms. It's a help."
    Howie had never pushed football on his boys. Chris's younger brother, Kyle, could have played football but instead chose to play baseball at Florida State. Howie Jr. is heading toward lacrosse.
    Chris happened to choose football. "If you're going to play," Howie told him, "play the game the right way."
    Howie, who lives five minutes from Charlottesville, does his best to blend in. He has been to a handful of practices, but only the open ones that fans and reporters can attend. "I'm just like every other parent," he said. He stands quietly off to the side, trying to not be noticed, his trademark flattop notwithstanding.
    "I'm not coaching Chris," Howie said. "That's important for people to know. Chris is singularly responsible for his success."
    Still, they speak at least once a day. Football, naturally, comes up: "It's not like plumbing is the family business," Howie said.
    Dominating
    The fear hasn't melted away yet. Midway through last season, Long became frustrated with his performance and went to his parents' house with a load of game tapes. Watching with his son, Howie noticed Chris trying new moves, not just using his quickness or hand-to-hand techniques. Howie told Chris to forget about the experiments and stick with what he does best: "Do you," he said.
    It was a turning point for Long that has carried over to this season. Long's greatness is both obvious and subtle. At 6 feet 4, 280 pounds, he chases ballcarriers like a maniac, like someone who is afraid.
    But a defensive end in the 3-4 alignment favored by Al Groh is designed to be anonymous. Long is responsible for plugging two gaps every play, not just charging upfield like typical ends. Asked how often he sees Long do something amazing that a fan would not notice, Groh responded, "Every play."
    Defensive ends in the 3-4 shouldn't pile up gaudy stats. But Long has 40 tackles, second on the team, and eight sacks, fifth in the nation. "That's unreal," Sintim said.
    "I've only had the pleasure to coach one other player who was as dominant in his level of competition as Chris is: 56" Groh said. He meant Lawrence Taylor.
    Long's performance has made his father's shadow vanish. When Grossman was a freshman living down the hall from Long, other students asked him, "Does Howie ever come by the dorms?" This year, when Grossman's living arrangements come up, no one mentions Howie. Instead, he's grilled with, "Oh my God, you live with Chris Long?"
    "I feel more pressure," Long said. "Now I have my own name that I have to uphold every day when I play. Now, people look at you for who you are. That's a blessing, but also, you have to be cognizant of the fact that things change. You have to watch out for your own name."
    The Nerd
    Attending college so close to home allows for some perks -- laundry day, for instance. On Wednesday night, Kyle Long, the middle brother, came to Chris's house with a basket of sheets their mother had washed.
    Long looks after his brothers fiercely. When Kyle was choosing a college and a sport, Long told him, "Do what you love." When Kyle needs help on an essay in high school, he asks Chris.
    "He's a better writer than he is a football player," Kyle said.
    As chaotic as Chris is on the field, he's calm off it. He likes to go camping or tubing on a lake. He discusses music almost every night with Grossman. He has the messiest room in the house. He's a Discovery Channel devotee.
    "He's a nerd," Kyle said. "It'll be Saturday night. 'You going out, Chris?' He'll say, 'Nah, I'm watching "Planet Earth," man.' He sits there by himself watching polar bears."
    Said Grossman: "If it wasn't for his stature, he could fit in anywhere. He's smart and witty, and if it wasn't for football, he would a great student here."
    Of course, he's not like everyone else. Even when he relaxes, football never leaves his mind. During spring break, he thinks about spring practice. In the summertime, camp is around the corner.
    "He's afraid he's going to get beat by somebody," Kyle said.
    On Saturday, Long and the Cavaliers will play Maryland on national television, perhaps the most important game of their season. During the telecast, ESPN2 will likely show clips of Howie.
    Howie hates that. Chris doesn't mind so much. But the fear is still there. And it's not going away.
    "It increases," Long said. "The higher the stakes, the more you feel pressure to perform. That's not a bad thing. For somebody to say they don't feel pressure, fine. That's just not me. I feel pressure. And I thrive on it."


  2. #2
    39thebeast's Avatar
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    Re: My vote for our #1 pick

    Great player no doubt about it, but he is not worth it at pick 2. I think our pick has to be Jake Long its almost like we don't have an option not to pick him if he is available. We need a pace successor, some depth is critical, and i think Barron has proven he is a RT and nothing more.

  3. #3
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: My vote for our #1 pick

    Quote Originally Posted by 39thebeast View Post
    i think Barron has proven he is a RT and nothing more.
    I'm not sure he's even proven that.

    The question with Long is not only is he worth that high of a pick (valid argument), but is he more of a 4-3 DE or a 3-4 DE? There are some that think as a pro he should drop some weight, making him a well rounded 4-3 DE. I think that prospect is intriguing. He's not the kind of speed rusher a lot of people look for at defensive end, but clearly he has the ability to get to the QB based on his 10 sacks thus far this season. Being strong against the run, for this team anyways, certainly wouldn't hurt either. I think he's a top consideration at this point.

    Jake Long should also be considered, though there's a valid argument about whether or not he's truly a left tackle at the next level. If he's not, is he worth that high of a pick? Maybe, because I don't think Barron has locked down either spot on this roster after three years. That being said, if the Rams want an offensive tackle to replace Pace and aren't convinced Long is a legit left tackle at the next level, they may have to hope for someone to unseat him or think about moving down. Easier said than done, though.

  4. #4
    rams 24/7 is offline Registered User
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    Re: My vote for our #1 pick

    calais campbell is big and someone to think about if were talking about DE here

  5. #5
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    Re: My vote for our #1 pick

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    That being said, if the Rams want an offensive tackle to replace Pace and aren't convinced Long is a legit left tackle at the next level, they may have to hope for someone to unseat him or think about moving down. Easier said than done, though.
    This draft could be potentially strong at OT. I'd really hope a very high pick wasn't used on Jake Long. No offense to him, but I don't absolutely feel that he's the next great OT, so I think the Rams can pass on him.

    I also want to see how things may progress with Pace.

    As far a Chris Long goes, I'd like to get to see him more.

  6. #6
    Ramsfan1973 is offline Registered User
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    Re: My vote for our #1 pick

    My vote goes to Chris Long. I know we need O-Line, but we desperately need D as well. A line anchored by Cariker and Long could be a thing of beauty for years to come. O -Lineman are such a gamble and there are so many that can be found in later rounds that pan out as much as first rounders. Just look at Robert Gallery and Alex Baron as examples of first round O-Lineman who were not worth the first round pick spent on them. Just my opinion.........

  7. #7
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    Re: My vote for our #1 pick

    I agree,get Chris Long, we need to build a defense first. We may be able to get by via free agency or later in the draft for an offensive lineman.
    Last edited by blood85; -01-03-2008 at 01:18 AM.

  8. #8
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    Re: My vote for our #1 pick

    I want the Rams to get Kenny Phillips by trading down and compiling some extra picks. O-line can be had in the 2nd round or even later and a de can be had via free agency. I just am not sure about either Long and really think Phillips is going to be great, just my opinion of course. Someone is really going to be wanting to move up to either get a qb or McFadden so we should be able to make a deal. Plus picking lower will save us some cash. Then again the Rams rarley do what we as fans want them to do with the exception of last year with Carriker.
    Just Fix It

  9. #9
    blood85's Avatar
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    Re: My vote for our #1 pick

    Doesn't Dallas want Mcfadden really bad?? I don't know what players they are willing to give up to move up...

  10. #10
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    Thumbs up Give me a break

    Quote Originally Posted by 39thebeast View Post
    I think our pick has to be Jake Long its almost like we don't have an option not to pick him if he is available.
    Is this a joke? Don't have an option not to pick him?

    We need a pace successor, some depth is critical, and i think Barron has proven he is a RT and nothing more.
    Well, if you draft Jake Long....you'll have two RTs.

    EDIT: I notice the poster I'm responding to wrote his comments in October. Not that it really changes anything.
    Last edited by PossumBoy9; -01-03-2008 at 02:16 AM. Reason: To add something

  11. #11
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    Re: My vote for our #1 pick

    Regardless of who says what about Jake Long, he isnt what we truly need.

    Our defensive line is terrible. We need a player soon, that would be Chris Long witout a doubt

  12. #12
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    Re: My vote for our #1 pick

    I don't think there's much doubt about it- they're going to take Jake Long.

  13. #13
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    Re: My vote for our #1 pick

    I'd almost trade Jackson and take McFadden.

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    Re: My vote for our #1 pick

    THE most rare commodity in the NFL (beside elite QB) is an elite pass rushing DE. This kid seems to not only be a great player but solid citizen and very bright person. I think to pass on him would be one of the biggest gaffes in franchise history. Carriker and Long would be the foundation of an amazing front...where it all starts!
    "You people point your 'f'in' finger and say theres the bad guy....what that make you....good?" Tony Montana

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    Re: My vote for our #1 pick

    I'd almost trade Jackson and take McFadden.
    I agree. The potential scenario reminds me of the trade that sent Hershell Walker to Minnesota for 5 players and 6 draftpicks. The trade helped make the Cowboys one of the premier teams of the 90's.

    Now I'm not saying that anyone would be stupid enough to repeat what the Vikings did, but I think it would be reasonable to assume that someone (the Cowboys, perhaps) who wanted Jackson enough would be willing to put together a package of picks that would help us out tremendously.
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