Bears’ Kyle Long ready to face off with brother
There are certain things Bears right guard Kyle Long can tell his fellow rookie, right tackle Jordan Mills, to prepare to face Rams defensive end Chris Long, Kyle’s older brother.
But none of that help has anything to do with technique or fundamentals. It has more to do with not ticking off the 6-foot-3, 268-pounder who has 31 sacks since the start of the 2011 season.
“Jordan doesn’t need a lot of help,” Kyle Long said. “He’s a tremendously bright individual, who has his own way of preparing and does a great job. The only way I can help him is, I know the kind of person Chris is. So I know what not to say to him, what not to do to him in between whistles.
“I’ve heard from his point of view what offensive linemen can do to your psyche, and when that kill switch comes on, and nobody wants that to come on during the game.”
Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis will be the first time 28-year-old Chris and 24-year-old Kyle will be together in uniform on a playing field of any kind.
Their father, Hall of Fame defensive end Howie, mother (Diane) and brother Howie Jr. will be in attendance with other family members who will all watch with mixed emotions. Even though they’re on opposite sides, Kyle says the unique situation is positive.
Many NFL sibling rivalries involve brothers who play the same position; rarely do they line up against each other.
“I can’t emphasize enough how blessed my family and I are to have this ‘problem’ of two brothers playing against each other,” Kyle said. “The chance of us running into one another and getting physical with one another is pretty high.”
Mills will be head-up vs. Chris Long on most snaps, but there will be some Long-on-Long violence.
“I have my assignments,” Kyle said, “Jordan has his assignments, and we’re not going to really pay attention to the extra stuff. I’ll have an opportunity to probably talk some smack to Chris in between plays, but I don’t want to expend any extra energy on that.”
Fortunately for the furniture and drywall in the Long home, the 6-foot-6, 313-pound Kyle alleges there weren’t many disagreements between the two growing up. The worst?
“It probably had to do with something I may or may not have mumbled under my breath to my mom regarding taking the trash out,” he said, smiling. “I’m going to leave it at that. I don’t talk back to my mom anymore, and I keep my distance from my brother when I’m being asked to do things.”
A few years ago there appeared to be no chance the Longs would ever be on the same field, since they weren’t even playing the same sport. Kyle started college on a baseball scholarship at Florida State but never suited up for the Seminoles, leaving after academic problems, a DUI arrest and amid rumors of substance abuse.
Long story short, Kyle played football two years at Saddleback Junior College, one year at Oregon and became a first-round pick and a rookie NFL starter. He went back to football against the advice of his big brother, who had good reason for his advice.
“He knows more than I do,” Kyle said. “He was living the football life and feeling the bumps and bruises and pains and aches. When you see your dad coming down the stairs in the morning, and he’s got to warm up to get down the stairs and psych himself up, (you think,) ‘Maybe I could go pitch somewhere.’
“But it didn’t take me long to realize that football was where I should be.”
Chris says he figured baseball would be a physically less-demanding way for his brother to make a living. Getting hit as a pitcher takes less of a toll than getting hit on the football field.
“I told him to stay away from football,” Chris said. “‘You’ve got a 94-mile-an-hour fastball and you hit the ball a mile. You see what those guys are getting paid, and they get to sit in the dugout and hang out. That sure sounds like it beats the grind of football, getting hit every day for a living.’”
The decision has turned out great so far, but Chris was skeptical at the time.
“I didn’t really know what to expect,” he said. “I know how talented he is, but I didn’t know what his interest level would be, (or) what his commitment level would be, because it takes a lot of that.
“It’s not easy, no matter what anybody tries to tell you, being the son of a Hall of Famer. He’s messed up once or twice and gotten knocked down once or twice and taken a long path, but he’s doing a heck of a job.”
Kyle says he had a great role model.
“People would usually think that my dad would be my idol, but my older brother is somebody that I’ve idolized,” he said. “I try to emulate the things that he does on and off the field. I’ve looked up to him my entire life.”
Sunday he will look at him face to face across the line of scrimmage.
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