Raiders

Son of Raiders legend Howie Long devoted to paying it forward

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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 report card after Sunday's 23-13 victory over Cardinals

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Raiders report card after Sunday's 23-13 victory over Cardinals

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Raiders have lost five straight by at least 14 points heading into Sunday’s game against Arizona.

They snapped that streak, and not just with a close loss.

The Raiders actually won. For real.

Derek Carr orchestrated his 15th career fourth-quarter comeback to help the Raiders beat the Cardinals 23-21 at State Farm Stadium.

We typically hand out Fs by the bushel in this space, but not tonight my friends. Not tonight.

The Raiders were far from perfect, but did several things well in this win. Here’s the report card from the Valley of the Sun.

Rushing offense

The Raiders were committed to the run against the Cardinals, and it paid off in spades. Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington and Doug Martin ran 33 times for 152 yards. That’s 4.6 yards per carry, a strong effort that gave the Raiders a balanced offense for once. The offensive line opened holes and the backs burst right through them to keep the offense moving. Good job all around by the ground game.
Grade: A

Passing offense

Derek Carr didn’t piled up stats, but he completed passes at critical times. That was especially true on the game-deciding field goal drive. He was working with the bottom of the depth chart, but managed to make plays with Marcell Ateman, Seth Roberts and Jared Cook. Pass protection was spotty at best, and the entire operation needs to be cleaner, but these guys got the job done.
Grade: B-minus

Rushing defense

After a terrible first drive, the Raiders did a solid job corralling star Cardinals rusher David Johnson. All it takes, however, is one bad play to ruin a day. That came on a 55 yard run by Johnson that set up a go-ahead score with five minutes left. They allowed 154 yards on 31 carries, which will get you beat in most scenarios.
Grade:D

Pass defense

The Raiders secondary delivered on Sunday with interceptions from Gareon Conley and Karl Joseph. Both takeaways created great field position and resulted in Raiders touchdowns. Cardinals rookie quarterback Josh Rosen was awful, but completed 9-of-20 passes for 136 yards thanks to errant throws and some solid coverage from the Raiders secondary.
Grade: A-minus

Special teams

Daniel Carlson nailed the first game-winning field goal of his career as time expired. That’s all you need to get an ‘A.’ The rookie from Auburn is coming on strong the past few weeks. He could be a long-term answer at kicker if he keeps this up.
Grade: A

Overall

A cynic would say the Raiders blew it by winning, hurting their draft position in an already lost season. That’s not how the players and coaches think. They wanted to win and were able to. It might not happen much the rest of the year, so they have to bask in this victory.
Grade: A

Inside the Raiders' final drive to complete comeback vs. Cardinals

Inside the Raiders' final drive to complete comeback vs. Cardinals

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Arizona Cardinals took a fourth-quarter lead with roughly five minutes left Sunday. Then, they couldn’t do anything else offensively.

That gave the Raiders three cracks at a comeback. The first two attempts went nowhere, as a bad, ailing offense continued to sputter in crunch time.

No matter. The offense took the field considering the third time a charm.

Quarterback Derek Carr tried to ease tension before that must-win series, telling center Rodney Hudson to “protect it up. We’re just going to go play catch outside.”

The Raiders played pitch and catch well into field-goal range. where Daniel Carlson secured a 23-21 victory at State Farm Stadium.

That's what they expected before the final drive started. Despite failing to consistently perform under pressure, the Raiders believed they would get the job done.

“We believed the outcome was never in doubt,” Carr said after his 15th career fourth-quarter comeback. “There have been times where we believed but didn’t win. … Everyone had that look in their eye, though it was a little different because, ‘Hey, this is probably our last chance.’”

Carr made it worthwhile.

He completed two short passes to get a 1st down, then spiked it to stop the clock. Carr saw rookie Marcell Ateman break free down the left sideline on the next snap and, with no regard for his rookie status, sent the ball deep.

Ateman came up with a huge, 32-yard catch that worked into Cardinals territory -- in his NFL debut, no less.

“He made one heck of a catch, keeping his feet in,” Carr said. “For him to do that in his first start, his first game, with everything going against him. … He did his job, got to his landmark when I wanted him to be there, and it was all him. He made an excellent play, and got a game ball for it. It was awesome.”

[BAIR: Jon Gruden, Derek Carr not sweating their argument after Raiders' win]

An incompletion and a sack left Carr only 25 seconds to work with. He then correctly identified the defensive back covering Seth Roberts ready to blitz, and quickly got the ball out to his veteran receiver. Ateman and fellow rookie Saeed Blacknall blocked their cover guys well, allowing Roberts to zip 20 yards upfield.

He didn’t get out of bounds and the Raiders had zero timeouts, meaning Carr had to spike it quickly to set up Carlson’s kick with two seconds left.

The rookie kicker nailed it, giving his team a much-needed win after five straight losses.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Carlson told reporters. “We kept chipping away, knowing eventually the rock was going to crack. It felt really good, really sweet to help make it happen.”