Chris Long offers insight into greatness of Tom Brady, Bill Belichick

Chris Long offers insight into greatness of Tom Brady, Bill Belichick

Chris Long is in a unique position to share what makes Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots stand out from the pack.

The veteran defensive end, who announced his retirement over the weekend, played 11 NFL seasons for three teams under six different head coaches. He saw the Patriots at their finest, winning a Super Bowl during his lone season in New England in 2016.

In an interview with NBC Sports' Peter King, Long confirmed his experience with the Patriots was unlike any other thanks in part to Belichick's coaching genius.

In my career playing football, nobody asked me to do as much as Bill Belichick did. I might be 3-technique, or a linebacker, or a linebacker dropping into coverage more than ever, or playing inside more than ever. I’ll always remember how much I learned watching Bill in practice. He can coach any position as good as any position coach in league. He can walk around the field and stop drills and coach each position—at the highest level.

Long indeed was a versatile asset for Belichick, appearing in all 16 games while starting seven on a Patriots defense that allowed the fewest points per game (15.6) in the NFL.

The 34-year-old also got a front-row seat to watch Brady at work. But Long told King the legendary quarterback hardly carried himself like one in the Patriots' locker room.

Tom Brady blew me away. Who’s the most famous athlete of our generation: Tom Brady? LeBron? Messi? Ronaldo? Serena Williams? Maybe I haven’t been around enough to know how the biggest stars really act. But Brady is a normal guy. When I got there, here comes Tom. ‘Hey Chris, I’m Tom, nice to meet you.’ Well, yeah, I know you’re Tom. A lot of people want to hate him for all the success, and I understand how you can dislike the Patriots, but I cannot understand how you can dislike Tom.

Long's experience with Brady matches that of several NFL veterans whose opinions of the 41-year-old QB changed when they became teammates.

Brady may have helped extend Long's career, too: Long told King he might have "retired a bitter man" had the Patriots not staged a historic comeback to win Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons.

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Take a look at this cool photo of Bill Belichick at the Preakness Stakes

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File photo

Take a look at this cool photo of Bill Belichick at the Preakness Stakes

While there won't be a Triple Crown winner this year, Bill Belichick is 2-for-2 in attending the legendary races. 

After spending some downtime with his girlfriend Linda Holliday and Tom Brady two weeks ago at the Kentucky Derby, the future Hall of Fame head coach was spotted at the Preakness Stakes, staring down the eventual winner War of Will before the horse secured its victory. 

You can spot Belichick to the left of the jockey right above War of Will's tail. 

War of Will rebounded from a controversial loss at the Derby, where the original winner Maximum Security appeared to impede War of Will and Country House. The race went under objection review, and Country House was declared the winner while War of Will dropped to seventh. 

With the win, War of Will may have solidified itself as the rightful contender for the Triple Crown even though it will not get the chance to capture the sport's highest achievement. 

And as Field Yates alluded to in his tweet, game recognizes game. 

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Bruins will seek advice from Patriots on how to handle long layoff

Bruins will seek advice from Patriots on how to handle long layoff

With an 11-day gap between taking the ice for Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Final sweep of the Hurricanes and Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, it'll be much like another long wait between conference title game and championship that a New England team regularly has to deal with.

See where we're going with this?

Bruins GM Don Sweeney said Saturday he'll be reaching out to a "local team" that has been fairly successful handling long layoffs leading up to their title game.  

Hmmm, who could that be? 

"There's different sports, there's crossovers that we've all kind of identified that we're going to tap into. There's a local team that had time between when they were going to Super Bowls," Sweeney said. "So, we are going to look at different resources that have done it and done it well."

Of Patriots coach Bill Belichick, Sweeney said he doesn't know him well but, "I have a hell of a lot of respect for the man. I think we're going to reach out to their group and see if we can tap into...we look at everybody's assets in that way and hopefully they'll be able to share some information with us."

Sweeney said the Bruins have given players a couple of days off after wrapping up the Eastern Conference Final Thursday night and will practice for a few days and leave decisions on if and when to have scrimmages up to coach Bruce Cassidy. 

On Friday, Cassidy mentioned perhaps scrimmaging one day leading up the Game 1 on May 27 at TD Garden against either the San Jose Sharks or St. Louis Blues, whose Western Conference Final is tied at 2 with Game 5 on Sunday afternoon in San Jose.

"We do have the Black Aces [a group of Providence Bruins], do we scrimmage one day to keep the edge?" Cassidy asked rhetorically. "But even then, if you scrimmage are guys really gonna be physical against one another? They're not."

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