Chris Long is loving his 1st season in Philly

Chris Long is loving his 1st season in Philly

It's been quite a year for Chris Long. He signed with the Eagles after winning a Super Bowl with the Patriots and has earned a significant amount of playing time and recorded five sacks and four forced fumbles in the defensive line rotation. He donated his entire 2017 base salary to fund scholarships in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, and he even got a shoutout from President Obama for his charity work (see story)

This week Long spent "5 Minutes with Roob."

Roob: Hey, we're joined today by Eagles defensive end Chris Long. Hey, Chris! What's this year been like for you?

Long: I really like the city, I like the fans, obviously came here because it fit me scheme-wise, and I’ve been enjoying being a part of a really good football team that hopefully is going to play here for a while.

Roob: You won 37 games in eight years with the Rams, and you've won 27 games the last two years with the Patriots and Eagles. How sweet is it to finally be part of a couple winning teams?

Long: It certainly helps. At the end of the day, it doesn’t make the eight years any shorter from that standpoint, but I think everything happens for a reason and it makes me value this winning a lot more. So just appreciate what it’s taken to get here personally and it makes everything worth even more.

Roob: You've put up solid numbers in your 10th season at 32 years old. How do you feel like you've played? 

Long: I’m excited to be a part of this defense. I expected more out of myself maybe as far as statistically. I was shooting for more. A couple plays here and there that if I make those plays or if there aren’t penalties, we’re talking about even more. But at the end of the day, I’d say you come into a situation like this — new city, new coaching staff, nobody’s going to expect much out of you at 32 years old. People put labels on you and I just tried to play my way out of that.

Roob: Where do you feel like you guys are right now, a few weeks after you lost Carson Wentz for the season?

Long: Nick (Foles) came in in L.A. against a tough defense and was able to help secure the win and the next week really carried us in New York when we weren’t at our best defensively. Gave us an opportunity to win that game by putting up big numbers. We played really well on defense last week. Maybe the offense wasn’t at its best, but we created some turnovers and that’s what a team is, we pick each other up. It can change from week to week. We want to put that together and play our best game on both sides of the ball this week and going forward.

Roob: What do you like best about this team?

Long: I think personalities. Unselfishness. I do think Doug (Pederson) does a great job of keeping everybody resilient and even-keeled and I think that shows in the locker room. There’s never panic among players. I think we’re just a level-headed group and unselfish and come to work.

Roob: How much longer do you want to play?

Long: I take everything year to year. Honestly, it’s all about the situation. Do I think it’s worth it to play, and I’m not talking about money, I’m just talking about just enjoying myself and playing football the way I want to. My body feels great and I feel like, God willing, I could go another four sometimes, but you’ve got to take things year to year.

Roob: You've gotten a lot of publicity for donating your salary to charity and the charity work you've done. What does that mean to you?

Long: Most of my career I’ve tried to do things under the radar in the community. I always thought it was more important if you didn’t publicize it, but I learned a valuable lesson when I formed my own foundation and my Waterboys Initiative that you need to publicize things and get people involved, and through that power, we’ve been able to raise over $2 million for clean water. That doesn’t include my own money and as far as my Pledge 10 for Tomorrow Initiative that I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of, I’ve donated my salary, which isn’t a ton of money, but at the end of the day I’ve been pretty much able to double that with fan support, and without doing that stuff publicly I can’t get a return on my investment in those causes. We’ve got a lot of great fans in the NFL and a lot of great peers in the NFL that care deeply about causes and if we all pitch in together that’s the power of sports.

More money might not be enough to keep Chris Long in Philly

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More money might not be enough to keep Chris Long in Philly

The Eagles have given veteran defensive end Chris Long a raise, but according to one report, Long is concerned enough about his playing time with the Eagles that he's mulling his options regarding his future.

What is certain is that at some point before March 15, Long signed a new contract with the Eagles that increases his 2018 base salary from $1 million non-guaranteed to $2½ million fully guaranteed.

However, NFL Network's Michael Silver reported Monday that Long may decide he doesn't want to accept the new contract — which he already signed.

According to Silver, Long is concerned about how many snaps he would get as a third-down rusher following the addition of Pro Bowl pass rusher Michael Bennett.

The Eagles officially acquired Bennett on March 14, although the deal was reported a week earlier. Long's new contract was filed with the NFLPA on March 15, but there is a good chance he agreed to it and signed it before the Bennett acquisition.

Whether or not Long knew Bennett was coming to the Eagles when he signed the restructured deal is unknown. But at some point Long knew about their interest in Bennett and even gave Bennett a "glowing recommendation" when the Eagles asked, according to an interview Long gave to SBNation.  

Long wouldn't appear to have many options. He could retire, in which case he would have to return the $500,000 bonus he received from the Eagles last week.

He could request a trade, which would be bizarre for someone who signed a contract extension just a few days earlier.

Or he could simply play under the terms of the contract restructure and pay increase, which was first reported by Field Yates of ESPN and confirmed by NBC Sports Philadelphia with a source familiar with the renegotiation.

As for the contract itself, including that $500,000 roster bonus — which was also in the previous version of the contract — Long would receive $3 million guaranteed this year instead of $1.5 million non-guaranteed plus $750,000 in easily achieved roster bonuses.

Long had five sacks and forced four fumbles last year as a rotational defensive end. He wound up playing 496 snaps, 10th-most on the defense and only about 10 per game fewer than starter and Pro Bowler Brandon Graham and five per game fewer than starter Vinny Curry, who the Eagles released.

Long, who turns 33 next week, has 63½ career sacks. His 5.0 sacks last year were his most since 2013. He's won back-to-back Super Bowls the last two years with the Eagles and Patriots.

What happens next?

Long has demonstrated that the money is secondary to him. He donated his entire 2017 base salary to charity.

At some point very soon, the Eagles will need him to decide whether he's even going to have a 2018 base salary.

Terrell Owens digs deep to find his Hall of Fame presenter

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Terrell Owens digs deep to find his Hall of Fame presenter

A day after we found out that Brian Dawkins picked Troy Vincent to introduce him at the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony this summer, Terrell Owens has picked his presenter. 

No surprise: It's not Donovan McNabb.

After alienating many people in the league throughout his tremendous career, Owens picked a name from his early days. Longtime NFL assistant coach George Stewart, who was Owens' receivers coach in San Francisco, will introduce T.O. at the 2018 induction. 

In a video released by the Hall of Fame, Owens said Stewart "knew what to get out of me."

Now special teams coordinator and assistant head coach for the Chargers, Stewart has been an NFL coach for three decades. He began his time in San Francisco in 1996 (Owens' rookie season) as a special teams coach but was their wide receivers coach from 2000-02.

"Things that George Stewart may say, it may be shocking to a lot of people, but not to him because he knows who I am," Owens said. "... To know who Terrell Owens is, you really have to spend some time with him. Fast forward, George Stewart became a father figure to me."

The first season Stewart became the 49ers' receivers coach, Owens went to his first of six Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro for the first of five times in his career. Owens was a Pro Bowler and an All-Pro in all three of the seasons that Stewart held the position in San Francisco. 

Of course, Owens' growth under Stewart led to his becoming one of the biggest stars in the NFL.

Eventually, Owens forced his way out of San Francisco and got to Philadelphia. With the Eagles, Owens had a short and tumultuous two seasons, but was also dynamic on the field and nearly helped them pull off a Super Bowl win over the Patriots. 

Owens averaged 93.5 receiving yards per game during his time in Philadelphia, the highest average in franchise history. It wasn't his play that led to his downfall in Philly. It was his beef with McNabb, along with his attempt to strong-arm the Eagles into a new contract. 

Owens was a divisive personality for his entire career. It's likely the reason it took him three tries to make it into the Hall of Fame. Because his numbers don't lie: He's one of the best receivers of all time.