Long brothers set to take sibling rivalry to a whole new level Sunday at the Dome
NOV 20, 2013 5:01p ET
Oh brother, does he have some.
"There's a million stories," he says.
When you have three boys growing up in the same household, most of the stories involve some kind of mischief. Or competition. Sometimes emergency room visits.
Long, the Hall of Fame defensive end-turned-broadcaster for FOX Sports, and his wife, Diane, will fly to St. Louis on Friday to watch the Rams play the Chicago Bears on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome.
With a traveling party of about 40 people, the Longs will watch their oldest son, Chris, a 28-year-old defensive end in his sixth season with the Rams, go head to head against middle brother Kyle, a 24-year-old rookie right guard for the Bears.
"They've never been on the same field together," says Howie, who will have the Sunday off from his usual NFL broadcasting routine for the first time in 20 years.
Long usually avoids talking about his sons publicly. He learned years ago that his successful career with the Raiders, which included eight Pro Bowl selections in 13 seasons and culminated with his induction into the Hall of Fame in 2000, casts a big shadow on his boys.
"I think it's important that they can kind of live their own lives and not be subject to my interference," Long says. "This is a unique week, so we're dealing with it. At work, FOX is very respectful of that. I generally steer clear of them, good or bad. I don't toot their horn or help them, but I'm very proud of both of them. They are really good guys and both are playing really well. I'm happy for both of them."
Chris Long, the eldest of the three Long boys, was a consensus All-American at the University of Virginia in 2007 and finished 10th in the Heisman Trophy voting that year, receiving one first-place vote, before he was selected by the Rams with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. He has established himself as one of the better defensive ends in the NFL. He has played in 90 games over six seasons and has been credited with 48 1/2 sacks, including a career-high 13 in 2011.
"With my older brother, he's always been somebody that I've looked up to," Kyle says. "Never once was he a bully to me. Granted, he was tough on me when he needed to be that way. But for my younger brother (Howie Jr.) and I, who are about a year apart, we have an older brother who is four, almost five years older than my younger brother and he was great. He was a role model for us. He showed us that we could go to school, that we could succeed academically, athletically, you name it. ... He's somebody that I could look up to and emulate."
Kyle Long was a first-round pick (20th overall) by the Bears this spring after a college career that saw him go from playing baseball at Florida State to playing football at Saddleback College in California and then Oregon. The 6-foot-6, 311-pounder has started all 10 games at right guard after winning the job during the preseason.
"I'm just really proud of him," Chris says of Kyle. "I know how much hard work this takes. I know how much pressure there is on us in general with our dad who he is. There's gonna be a lot of people that doubt you, that say you're not earning it, this, that and the other thing. He's had some bumps in the road and he's been able to fight through that on top of all that. He plays hard and I love the way he plays the game. If I were to step back and see who's No. 75 for the Bears and it wasn't my brother, I would say, 'I like the way this guy plays.' That's the best compliment I can give him."
The brothers are plenty competitive, as you'd imagine from two alpha-male professional football players.
That was on display this summer in Montana, where the family has a property. Chris and Kyle were working out and eventually squared off in a truck-pushing competition.
"We had just finished a long-distance run in which Chris had smoked me," Kyle says. "Let me just get that out there before I tell you this next part.
"We were doing a truck push. Dad's out there in the driveway and he's got this spray paint. He's lining off. This is where we're pushing it to. This is where we start. He wasn't like that in the beginning. It was organized by my brother and I. We're out there working and all of a sudden Dad gets his competitive juices flowing. He's out there watching and timing for us.
"We were supposed to push a truck let's say 20 yards. Chris got up and pushed it in 10 seconds. Then I got up and pushed it in 9.8. So that's my claim to fame. And he was pissed."
Chris was asked to recount his version of the truck-pushing story.
"I forgot about it," he says, before remembering. "When I adjusted the formula to incorporate his mass, I actually won the competition seeing as he outweighs me by 50 pounds and beat me by point-six seconds."
Yeah, it's like that between the brothers.
The two regularly text each other funny pictures, with Chris being particularly fond of "sloth memes," photos where you can put whatever words you want the sloth to be saying underneath.
"It's stupid," Kyle says, "but Chris is stupid and I'm stupid, so it's funny."
One story Howie can laugh about now started when Chris was at school and Howie Jr. and Kyle took Chris' teddy bear to the basement. The younger brothers hosed down the bear with a fire extinguisher, which set off a fire alarm that brought the fire department to the family's home.
"That's classic," Howie says. "That's who they are. As I've said plenty of times, I would not be surprised if they were in trouble, but I'd be surprised if they were disrespectful. They're boys. We have been questioned at the emergency room."
"If you go to the emergency room a certain number of times ..."
Howie explains that Kyle had fractured his jaw after taking a line drive off his face during batting practice one day.
"If you're in the emergency room a certain number of times, you automatically get red-flagged in the computer," Howie says. "We've been in the emergency room a lot with three boys. I kind of got where the gal was going with the line of questioning. Here I am in a baseball cap, gym shorts and T-shirt and Kyle's in his baseball uniform. I said we literally just left the field. Take him in the back and take care of him and you can ask him any questions you want."
It was just another adventure for the Long children.
That pretty much sums up having three boys, Howie says.
It's been a wild ride at times, one that leads Sunday to the Edward Jones Dome, where one Long will square off with another in an NFL game in front of 60,000 fans.
Howie doesn't know how it's going to go.
Neither does Chris or Kyle.
"They're brothers," Howie says. "We've always kind of preached and if I've said it to them once, I've said it a thousand times at the dinner table, 'Look around the table. This is what you've got. These are the people that will jump in front of a bus to save your rear end. These are the most important people in your life.'
"I think they've taken that to heart and they love one another a great deal. They are very close. It's going to be odd. I'm not sure they are both going to break the huddle, walk up to the line and laugh. I don't know. I'm not sure they know what it's going to be like."
You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter (@natelatsch) or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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