Tom Musick: Meet the latest in Long line
He’s not Chris Long. That guy (brother of Kyle and Howie Jr.) plays in St. Louis.
He’s not Jake Long. That guy (brother of John and Joe) plays in St. Louis, too.
He’s not Kyle Long. That guy (brother of Chris and Howie Jr.) plays in Chicago.
He’s Joe Long. Brother of John and Jake. And, as of a week ago, he plays in Chicago.
So now that we’ve established who Joe Long is not, let’s discuss who he is.
First, the football stuff.
He’s a 6-foot-5, 304-pound offensive tackle. The Bears signed the 24-year-old off the Pittsburgh Steelers’ practice squad and added him to their active roster. Before the Steelers, Long had spent time with the Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2012.
In addition to playing left and right tackle, he also has been working a bit at guard.
Now, the personal stuff.
John, the oldest brother, is a high school teacher and football coach in Michigan. Jake, the middle, was a star lineman for Michigan and was the No. 1 overall pick by the Miami Dolphins in 2008. He signed a four-year deal with the St. Louis Rams this summer, but his season came to an abrupt end last weekend when he tore his ACL.
As for Joe?
He’s happy to be part of a football family.
“I was just happy to get an offer at all out of high school. [Jake] was a lot more athletic in high school, a lot stronger than I was. But it never really bothered me that I was in his shadow or anything. My attitude was that I wanted to make a name for myself, too. I think I’m starting to finally do that, through college and now this.”
“I was undrafted. I went to St. Louis originally and got cut out of camp. And I was out of football for a couple months. I thought it was over. …
“I still had to finish my degree. I was working out and I did that for six, seven weeks, and I was starting to get a little bit bummed. I actually got a job. I worked at Costco, stocking freezers at like 4:30 in the morning. So I did that for a couple weeks, but I got called [to join the Steelers’ practice squad].”
He has a dog, Droptine, a 1-year-old English Mastiff that weighs 140 pounds.
“I had my dog in Pittsburgh, so my parents had to drive and pick my dog up. But when you get into the business, you know how it’s going to be, especially a guy that’s bouncing on practice squads and stuff. I was prepared mentally for that. …
“When I got him, he was small. I didn’t exactly know how ginormous he was going to be. He’s a big baby, though. He won’t hurt anybody.
“After the season, I’ll see him.”
He’s optimistic and committed to succeeding in the NFL.
“My goal was to make the team in Pittsburgh this year, but I made practice squad – it’s still better than the year before. And now I got bumped up to an active team. That was definitely a goal of mine.
“I know coming in late in the season, you’re probably not going to get a lot of opportunities to play, but you get a lot of opportunities to learn the system, meet the guys, watch their technique. Going into the offseason, that’s a huge help.”
On Christmas, he’s grateful for his family.
“[Growing up], it was not a very big house, a one-story house. There was furniture broken because of our size. My mom would spend a lot of money on groceries every week. But it was a really good household growing up in. …
“My parents never miss a game. They go to my brother John’s high school, to Jake’s, to mine. And they drive everywhere. They drive all around the country. They love it, man. They love following the kids around.”
As Long spoke about his parents and his brothers and his dog, he smiled.
Life is good. And who knows? It could get even better.
• Northwest Herald sports columnist Tom Musick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @tcmusick.