On Saturday, Bleacher Report released their list of each NFL team’s most overpaid player. Kyle Long was the selection for the Bears, but the six-year veteran certainly knows how to have fun with the detractors.
Rather than responding in a brash or upset manner, Long decided to thank his agent for negotiating his four-year contract extension from back in 2016. Long has still been a productive player for the Bears, but $10 million a year was a bit too rich for the Bears’ current contending plans, and so they and Long agreed to restructure the contract lowering his cap figure for 2019.
At this point, he is still one of the crucial pieces of the Bears much improved offensive line, and while the details of his new cap figure aren’t public yet, it’s safe to say the Bears are happy with Long’s place in their long-term plans, regardless of his year-to-year cap hit.
And while the fans loved Long’s tweets, some pretty notable names loved Long’s reaction as well.
Many Bears fans already know the toll that Kevin White's injuries took on him physically. Leg breaks, hamstring tears, and shoulder fractures all contributed mightily to White's underwhelming time in Chicago, but the lesser known side of things centers on the emotional toll those injuries took. Talking with our Bears Insider JJ Stankevitz, White went into detail about what it was like for him to be living through that:
It was hard. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t hard. It was hard because I love the game so much and want to be great so bad and did the right things, be a good person — forget about football, I try to be a super good person. And it was just like oh my gosh, when am I going to get my chance or my turn? Or when am I going to be like, oh my gosh I got through it and now I’m with this team or got this contract and I was able to score the winning touchdown or whatever. So I just kept thinking that’s gonna come, it’s gonna come, it has to happen. Just stay the course, keep fighting, keep battling. You got the talent, just stay healthy so we can show it. So that’s what every day kept me going.
... Like, you don’t understand what that player has to go through day in, day out. Even sleeping, it’s hard to sleep because your mind is like, I’m ready to play, I wanna go. Your body is like, no shot. So you gotta sleep on that. Then you get kind of bored, or sometimes you know what the media’s saying, fans are saying, it kind of gets you like, I’m gonna go out there and run a route. I want to be able to do it right now. Like I want to be able to do it now. So you gotta be able to deal with that mentally. Physically, your body’s not ready, so you gotta do treatment and extra things every single day. You don’t just go in for treatment from 9 to 11 and then you’re done for the day. That’s not it. It’s an every day battle, mentally and physically.
It's fascinating – not to mention a bit heartbreaking – to get such a first-hand account of what failure in the NFL feels like. You can listen to the entire interview on the latest episode of the Under Center Podcast:
No one steals thunder quite like the NFL.
On a day when the NHL is planning to publicly announce how their season will return, it's being reported that the NFL may take a significant step towards their own reopening – and soon.
Yahoo Sports' NFL columnist Charles Robinson is reporting that NFL coaches may return to team facilities as early as next week, and the league has its eyes on OTAs in mid-to-late June:
The sources told Yahoo Sports that if coaches resume their in-house work next week, minicamps including players could be scheduled as early as June 15 or as late as June 27, depending on COVID-19 data and whether a handful of franchises get a “go ahead” signal from state governments to resume full operations. Resuming full operations and getting a minicamp scheduled would represent the league's biggest step to date toward keeping the 2020 NFL season on track for a regularly scheduled fall kickoff.
Robinson's source adds that 'June 15 and June 27 are the dates that have been identified as potential full-squad minicamp windows,' and the 'key hurdle' is the timeline in which California governor Gavin Newsom begins to reopen the state. Newsom has already expressed a willingness to have professional sports team return under strict and specific guidelines.
The news is a good sign for the return of the NFL on a normal schedule – a reality that's looked increasingly likely over the past couple weeks.