Long story: Bears’ Kyle welcomes little bro, Raiders
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The picture sits on his desk — of him at 10, his brother Kyle at 11 and Chris at 15, standing on the Oakland Coliseum sideline before a preseason game in 2000.
There’s awe in their eyes. Raiders fans would later chant for their father — “How-ie! How-ie!” — when his old team honored the star defensive lineman for Pro Football Hall of Fame induction.
“You know your dad as just your dad,” said Howie Long, Jr. “It’s a surreal thing to see how appreciated he was, or is. The whole Raider Nation.”
Kyle still remembers the game, too — the roar of the crowd from down on the field.
He played on the same field, in the preseason, as a rookie Bears offensive lineman in 2013. Chris, a Rams defensive end, went there this August.
The youngest of the three Long brothers, though, calls it home.
“We all kinda came back to that same spot,” Howie Jr., said.
Howie, Jr., is a scouting assistant and personnel assistant for the Raiders.
He started as a football operations intern during 2013 training camp, leaving odd jobs at a landscaping business and bar to work a job short-term gig that he turned into a full-time job.
“You have to pinch yourself every once in a while to realize that I am saying ‘us,’ and I do mean us,” Howie Jr. said of the Raiders. “But it’s got to be exciting for Kyle, even if he won’t admit it — to play the team that his dad had such a great career for and is known so well around the NFL for being a Raider.”
Kyle is one year and 18 days older than Howie, Jr.. They played on the same teams and were inseparable growing up in Charlottesville, Va.
But while his kid brother grew up a Raiders fanatic, Kyle did not.
Despite having Raiders mementos around the house — from helmets to artwork — Kyle said the boys were given a “freedom to choose.” A baseball prospect, Kyle didn’t like football until high school. The first team he loved was the Rams, who took Chris No. 2 overall in 2008.
“Silver and black is something that’s been part of my upbringing,” Kyle said. “And I’m very proud of the things that my dad did with that organization.”
Howie Jr. — who Kyle said will be “following (coach) Jack Del Rio around the sideline” Sunday — and his brother arranged a big Friday night family dinner out in Chicago. Their parents, Howie and Diane, flew in to see their boys.
Gathering around football is what they do.
“We’re not one of those families,” said Howie, Jr., a prep football prospect who played lacrosse at Virginia, “that has 10 second cousins and great aunts and uncles.”
He’s been asked the same question all week at the office, so he’ll offer a scouting report on the Bears right tackle that wears his father’s No. 75: “He’s big, strong, athletic — and angry.”
Kyle will have use of his hand back Sunday, too, after having it casted for the last two games. Good thing, too: he’ll be tasked with blocking defensive end Khalil Mack, last year’s No. 5 pick.
“A lot of times with guys who just want to rush the passer you can run at them and have some success,” running back Matt Forte said. “But when a guy is good at, both it’s difficult.”
That’s a tall task for a man playing his fourth game at right tackle. It was “scary and nerve-racking” when the Bears moved his brother because Kyle had been a two-time Pro Bowler at guard, Howie Jr., said, but he’s learning quickly.
“The tape will tell you he’s getting better every week,” he said.
He should know — after every Raiders game, he goes home to watch his brothers’ contests, in full. He watches Kyle first — then Chris.
Sunday, he and Kyle’s game will be one in the same.
Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley