Bears guard Kyle Long ‘stepping away’ from football

Long is not definitively ending his career, a source said; his “stepping away” is indefinite. He also has no interest in playing for any other team, and when he does retire, he wants it to be as a careerlong Bear.

SHARE Bears guard Kyle Long ‘stepping away’ from football
Bears guard Kyle Long was drafted in 2013.

Bears guard Kyle Long was drafted in 2013.

Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Kyle Long took a pay cut last offseason to stay with the team and become what he called a “Bear for life.” After five games, though, the Bears unexpectedly put the struggling guard on injured reserve — even though he played every offensive snap in his last game.

Long didn’t return to Halas Hall until Friday, when equipment manager Tony Medlin let him take his battered Bears helmet and pads home for the first time.

So Long’s declaration Sunday night that he was stepping away from football wasn’t much of a surprise. But it’s a blow nonetheless for a franchise that, from 2013 to 2015, claimed Long as the best player on its roster.

Long is not definitively ending his career, a source said; his “stepping away” is indefinite. He also has no interest in playing for any other team, and when he does retire, he wants it to be as a careerlong Bear.

“Some Chicagoans are probably happy to hear I’m finally stepping away and getting my body right,” Long tweeted on Sunday night. “Some Chicagoans may be sad to hear this. Either way [you] feel about it, I want [you] to know how lucky I am to have spent time in your city. I became a man while playing in Chicago. Thank you.”

On social media, he thanked the Bears’ administration — former general manager Phil Emery and former coach Marc Trestman — that made him a surprise No. 20 pick in 2013. He even wished Bears matriarch Virginia McCaskey, who turned 97 Sunday, a happy birthday.

The son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Howie Long and the little brother of 2008 No. 2 overall pick Chris Long took his own path to the NFL. A White Sox draft pick as a left-handed pitcher, Long instead decided to enroll at Florida State to play baseball. He left after a short stint that included a DUI, eventually landing on the Saddleback College football team in Southern California. His dominance there earned him a scholarship at Oregon, but he started only seven games for the Ducks.

After his surprising selection by Emery, Long made the Pro Bowl his first three seasons with the Bears. The third honor came after he moved to right tackle mere days before the start of the 2015 season. The team needed help there, and Long didn’t complain.

Injuries cruelly began to mount halfway through his career — he started only 29 of a possible 64 games in his last four seasons. He landed on injured reserve those last four seasons. A gruesome ankle injury that prompted reconstructive surgery ended his season in 2016, and a shoulder problem shortened his 2017 season. A foot injury landed him on IR in 2018, but he returned to play in Week 17 and in the Bears’ playoff loss to the Eagles.

Long felt healthy during training camp in July, but injuries caught up to him again. When the Bears vowed to make changes after their Week 5 loss to the Raiders in London, Long was put on injured reserve with what the team called a hip injury. Long suspected, though, that it was a result of his poor play stemming from his injury history.

His days with the Bears were numbered ever since — to keep him in 2020, the Bears would have had to exercise a $6 million team option by mid-March.

Last week, general manager Ryan Pace made Long’s return sound highly unlikely.

“I feel bad for all the injuries he’s tried to overcome,” Pace said. “That was a decision we made at the time, and we’ll have to make another decision this offseason with his [contract] option.”

The Latest
Nurses across the country are wondering if the profession is worth the risk after a Tennessee nurse was convicted in a case involving an accidental injection that resulted in a patient’s death.
The group of five, ranging in age from 16 to 33, were on the sidewalk in the 800 block of South Karlov Avenue about 1:30 a.m. when a fight broke out and shots were fired.
The man, whose age was unknown, was on a sidewalk in the 5700 block of South Carpenter Street when someone opened fire, striking him in the head and body.
A woman and man, 27 and 25, were in a car in the 2900 block of West 31st Street about 11:45 p.m. when someone opened fire, police said.