Son of Raiders legend Howie Long devoted to paying it forward


Son of Raiders legend Howie Long devoted to paying it forward

Editor's note: Raiders Insider Scott Bair is in Minneapolis all week long covering Super Bowl festivities -- check out Scott's archive as he files stories and podcasts leading up to the big game on Sunday  

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Terry Bradshaw cornered Chris Long shortly after Philadelphia won the NFC championship. He asked the veteran defensive and son of Raiders legend Howie Long about making Super Bowl LII, and the emotions that come with it.

The interview didn’t last, despite Chris Long’s eloquence. FOX cameras cut back to the pregame set, to capture his son Waylon having a Riley Curry moment.

The two-year old’s smile never ceased while sitting on grandpa Howie’s lap, reveling in a moment for the entire Long clan. Chris Long made his second Super Bowl.

Waylon might not remember that moment. He’s still too young. That didn’t sully Chris Long’s joy of sharing a great moment with his boy. Here's a bond he intends to fortify. He knows, after all, what it’s like to have a father as a best friend. Replicating that is his primary focus.

“The bond with my son Waylon is the most important thing,” Chris Long said. “My dad would say that, too. He’s the best thing that ever happened to me, and he makes anything I accomplish even better. It was so great having him on the field. He was having a blast. He saw granddad through the confetti and ran over to him. He’s such a ham, and got right on TV.”

Howie Long’s always on TV, and was a megastar while Chris Long was growing up. Chris wanted to be and play like the Silver and Black’s dominant defensive end. He followed in dad’s footsteps, both in sport and position. 

Chris Long was the No. 2 overall pick, and has 63.5 sacks in 10 NFL seasons. It certainly helped having someone like Howie as a sounding board, though technique isn’t always a topic on the table.

“He helps me a lot football-wise, but first and foremost he’s a best friend to me,” Chris Long said. “It certainly helps to have someone so close identify with what you’re doing and knows what it’s like. I was never the kid who walked off the field and had his dad start coaching right away. He always shot straight with me. I think that has helped me a lot.”

Chris hasn’t matched Howie Long’s illustrious career, but a second Super Bowl ring would provide some bragging rights.

“It’s hard to talk trash to a guy with a gold jacket,” Chris Long said. “I always tell him that my playoff winning percentage is better than his. I won one ring in nine years, and it took him 13, so mathematically I’m collecting them at a better clip.”

Chris Long is doing something unprecedented this year. He’s playing for free. Long donated his entire season’s salary to various charities, especially those focused on education, after fatal, racially motivated protests in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. He has encouraged fans to join the movement, and donations have doubled his original amount.

Long is trying to give back and support racial minorities protesting mistreatment by the criminal justice system. He’s one of a few Caucasian players to stand in front of a movement started by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

“I had every opportunity growing up,” Chris Long said. “Why wouldn’t I want other people to have the same experience, especially considering I didn’t fully appreciate it? My teammates are like family to me, and we didn’t all come from the same neighborhood. I can accept that I might love America, but others look at things through a different lens.”

He spent most of an hour-long session with the media Monday talking politics and social cause, a period he didn’t enjoy but considers essential given his celebrity status. He scoffs at those who consider athletes promoting social causes a distraction to the games themselves.

“Distraction is code for ‘I don’t like what you’re talking about,’” Long said. “Do I want to be talking about social issues when there’s a Super Bowl coming up? No, I don’t. Players have been contributing and speaking out in more accepted ways, and fans don’t mind that. When we’re talking about criminal justice reform or improving inner cities or helping communities with people of color through education, people say it’s political. I think we’re just trying to help people. That’s it.”

Chris Long attacks his profession, his family and his beliefs with conviction. That’s something his role model, best friend and father admires.

“He has a great passion for football and, as we’ve seen with him donating his salary and playing for free this year, he has passion off the field,” Howie Long said after the NFC Championship Game a fortnight past, with Waylon on his lap. “The passion he has for all that, and the passion he has for his family, is really special.”

Raiders sign linebacker with Paul Guenther connection


Raiders sign linebacker with Paul Guenther connection

The Raiders entered this free agency period needing defensive help throughout the depth chart. They signed presumptive starters earlier in this veteran acquisition process, but didn’t stop there.

The Silver and Black have added depth this week especially, signing a key cog in linebacker Emmanuel Lamur on Wednesday afternoon.

Lamur spent the last two years in Minnesota and the previous four in Cincinnati with new Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. Guenther was his position coach from 2012-13 and his DC from 2014-15. He also knows Raiders linebackers coach David Lippincott from the Bengals days

Lamur has primarily been a reserve, but Guenther gave him an opportunity to start in 2014. He had 59 tackles and two interceptions in 13 starts that year as a strongside linebacker.

The Raiders have options at that spot, but no firm starter at this stage if Bruce Irvin plays defensive end full time.

Lamur hasn’t played much defense the last two years, but is known as a quality special teams contributor. The Raiders have signed several of those players in an attempt to improve coverage and returns.

All told, the Raiders have signed 14 unrestricted free agents with a shot to make the 53-man roster since last week began. The roster will turnover significantly in Jon Gruden’s return to the Raiders, and it’s possible he signs more players in coming days.

The Raiders are still looking for upgrades at receiver, and might add another bargain defensive lineman.

Report: Ndamukong Suh calls off meeting with Raiders


Report: Ndamukong Suh calls off meeting with Raiders

Ndamukong Suh won’t meet with the Raiders, after all. The star defensive tackle cut Alameda out of his free-agent tour, according to NFL Network, choosing instead to head home after stops in New Orleans, Tennessee and the L.A. Rams.

NFLN reports that Suh had dinner with Rams coach Sean McVay on Tuesday night, and was due in Oakland the following day. The Rams made a solid impression

Suh is reportedly mulling options from all three aforementioned playoff teams, all of which have more working salary-cap space and other stalwarts along the defensive line.

That’s surely a disappointment for the Raiders, who have had interest in Suh dating back to his last free-agent experience in 2015. The Silver and Black couldn’t afford him then. It seems unlikely they can afford him now, with precious little salary-cap space remaining after being active in free agency’s second wave.

The Raiders also hope to lock Khalil Mack up long-term with a massive extension this offseason.

It’s uncertain at this stage whether player or team cancelled the meeting, or exactly why it was called off. The Raiders could still sign a veteran defensive tackle, and/or acquire one early in the NFL Draft.