HOUSTON — Howie Long will be part of Fox’s Super Bowl LI broadcast team on Sunday, appearing on the pregame, halftime and postgame shows.
In between that, though, he’ll be watching the game not as a former player or network analyst, but as Chris’ father.
“I’m a dad first, no question,” the Hall of Fame defensive end said on Tuesday of covering a game in which his son, Chris Long, is a defensive lineman for the Patriots. “Now, that being said, I have a job to do. I’m prepared to do my job and talk about all aspects of the game, defense and offense and special teams, coaching, history, and give my opinions both in pregame at halftime and postgame. I’ll be professional, but certainly I’ll be watching the game as a dad.”
The most difficult part of that, Howie Long admitted, will be the postgame part. Especially if the Patriots win.
“I don’t know,” he said when asked how he would handle that possibility. “I couldn’t imagine someone wanting something more for someone. Because of who he is and how he’s handled himself and the road he’s been down to get here, it’s special. I’m excited for him. To have the opportunity to get in the batter’s box and take a swing, there are 30 other teams that would just die to have this opportunity and it’s a special, special time.”
Chris Long played eight seasons for the Rams, eight years playing for underperforming teams and suffering a series of injuries.
“I’ve played in games when there were less people in the stadium than we have in here watching this right now,” Chris Long said of his time in St. Louis while at Monday night’s Super Bowl Opening Night event. “It’s unbelievable how far my career has taken me.”
Long was released from the team almost one full year ago (Feb. 19, 2016). He had options as a free agent, including, ironically, both of the teams that are in this Super Bowl.
Howie Long said he counseled his son.
“For me it came back to one thing,” Howie said. “It came back to: Why are you playing? His response was always: ‘I’m playing to win.’ OK. Well, what team has won the division 11 or 12 times over the last 13 years? And what team has been to six Super Bowls and won four and came close to winning the two others they were in? Not to discount the Falcons, he loved his trip to Atlanta. He loved the coach, loved the defensive staff, loved what they were doing down there. But where do you fit? It’s interesting because the place that gave him the least definitive idea of what his role would be was New England. But it came back to the same thing, the opportunity to win.
“He made the decision on his own,” Howie Long said. “He asked for my input and I gave it to him. But Chris is someone who makes informed decisions and generally chooses wisely.”
Chris certainly has no regrets. He joked that he would have played for the Patriots for five dollars this season, only because there is no such thing as a four-dollar bill.
“We’ve won 16 as a team this year and now we’re in the Super Bowl,” Chris Long said. “This opportunity here is what I had in mind. It was my first experience in free agency and this is what I had in mind. Even when you’re playing for a struggling team, you convince yourself that you have a chance for something like this. When you get here [to New England], you don’t have to convince yourself because we really do have a chance every year here. Why? Because we have the greatest coach of all time and the greatest quarterback of all time.”