‘Fired’ by Bears, former offensive lineman Kyle Long considers return to NFL

While it’s still unlikely Long will play football again, he’s not 100 percent ready to close the book on it. And if he does come back, it won’t be with the Bears.

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Kyle Long finished his Bears career in 2019.

For the Sun-Times

Offensive lineman Kyle Long always was outspoken when he played for the Bears and feels even freer to let it fly now that he’s out of the NFL.

If you want to know what’s going through his mind, all you have to do is log on to Twitter.

In a series of tweets Monday, Long said he got “fired” by the Bears and is contemplating a return to football but would not play for the current staff.

“I didn’t retire I got fired,” Long wrote. “I will know with conviction whether I’m done for good or not in the next few weeks.”

He also wrote that he’s more likely to end up on the golf course than a football field, so it doesn’t sound as if he’s determined to come back.

Long told the Chicago Sun-Times in January that he was at peace with retirement and described it as “the easiest decision I’ve ever made.” He didn’t like that the Bears forced him to go on injured reserve four games into the 2019 season but thought his play justified them moving on from him.

He reiterated that Monday, pointing out that coach Matt Nagy’s staff released him at the end of the season “and had every right to,” which he takes as a sign that the Bears wouldn’t be interested in having him return. It appears that feeling is mutual.

“I have supported this staff and the roster in the media since being released,” Long wrote. “Believe in the team and the coaches. But that doesn’t mean I would want to play for them.”

He went on IR despite having played every snap at right guard to that point, and the Bears replaced him with Rashaad Coward. Long was not around Halas Hall the rest of the season.

“It was clear to me that they didn’t want me in the building,” he said in January. “So I got my ass out of the building, and I never came back.”

The Bears haven’t commented on Long other than wishing him well.

“Just reflecting back, with the player, the person and everything he’s done for our franchise, I can tell he’s excited for this next chapter in his life,” general manager Ryan Pace said at the combine. “We’re excited to see it unfold.”

The Jets reportedly were interested in signing Long two weeks ago, but nothing came of it.

The Bears drafted him 20th overall in 2013, and he made three consecutive Pro Bowls at guard and tackle. Injury troubles started in 2016, particularly with his ankle, and he struggled to get back to that level. He played 30 games in his last four seasons.

While no breakup is ever perfectly smooth, Long called himself a “Bear for life” and didn’t seem to hold any grudges against the organization when he spoke at length about his retirement in January.

“They’ve done me right, and I’ve done them right,” he said then. “I’m a three-time Pro Bowler. Never threw my teammates under the bus. Always took blame. Played hurt. I did what I was supposed to [expletive] do. And they did right by me.

“The Bears did me right, so I’ll never play in another jersey again. Bear for life. Couldn’t be happier about that. If I felt they [wronged] me, I’d go to Germany and get some stem cells and come back ready to kick somebody’s ass.”

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