Chris Long

Chris Long admits to marijuana use, speaks out against NFL's policy — and he's right

Chris Long admits to marijuana use, speaks out against NFL's policy — and he's right

Always the progressive, it should come as no surprise that Chris Long is sort of ahead of the curve when it comes to the NFL’s accepting marijuana use. 

For now, marijuana is banned by the NFL, but the league has recently opened discussions about possibly using it as a pain management alternative. A committee of medical experts appointed by the league and the players union will study marijuana and its effects as an alternative pain treatment. 

Long, the recently-retired former Eagle, was on "The Dan Patrick Show" today and — shockingly! — admitted to the world that he used marijuana during his NFL playing career. It’s not that Long was ever one to avoid the conversation. He sent out this tweet in January. 

But now that he’s out of the league, it seems he’s feeling a little more empowered to speak his mind on the topic. 

And he makes a lot of very salient points. He’s right — the NFL’s policy and stance on marijuana is as ridiculous as it is outdated. 

You can check out the whole thing here: 

Based on the NFL’s recent (and late-to-the-table) conversion, Patrick asked Long were he thinks this is heading. 

We should be headed to a place where we allow players to enjoy what I would not even call a drug. You know, it’s far less dangerous than guzzling a fifth of alcohol and going out after a game. Chances are the player won’t even make it to the club (laughs) to do this sort of thing that we all kind of wag our finger at when we hear about a guy getting in a fight or a DUI, you’re never going to read about him sitting on the couch and binge-watching ‘Game of Thrones’ again.

I think from a standpoint of what’s safer for people and the player, certainly people in the spotlight, it is far less harmful than alcohol, it is far less harmful than tobacco, and at various points in the league’s history, they have engaged in partnerships on different levels with those respective industries.

Long said he didn’t want to give a percentage of how many NFL players use marijuana but admitted he used his “fair share” of marijuana during his career. He also mentioned a lot of players used it for pain management. 

Long wouldn’t give a percent, but based on my time around the league, I’ll tell you it’s a significant portion of players. A big reason for that is the laughable testing policy that allows players to skirt the rules with ease. 

In fact, Long called the testing arbitrary and, well, he’s right. 

I think testing is arbitrary. The league, speaking plainly, knows damn well what they’re doing. Testing players once a year for ‘street drugs,’ which is a terrible classification for marijuana, is kind of silly because, you know, players know when the test is, we can stop, and in that month or two that you stop, you’re going to reach for the sleeping pills, you’re going to reach for the pain killers, you’re going to reach for the bottle a little bit more. On the weekend, you’re going to have a few more drinks and a few turns into a few too many. It’s just not the same and if you’re serious about players not smoking, you’d be testing more often. I hope they go the opposite direction and realize how arbitrary doing that test once a year is.

I’ve heard many NFL executives and coaches not give a damn about whether or not their players smoke weed. They don’t care. They just care if a guy is dumb enough to get caught because players know the test is coming. Believe it or not, the testing period (incredibly!) begins on April 20 and continues through Aug. 9. That’s when players are tested for what the league calls “substances of abuse” and marijuana is included in that. 

So as long as players don’t use marijuana just before or during that span, they’re going to pass with flying colors and then start up right again. There’s some obvious absurdity there that definitely warrants ridicule above and beyond the merits of banning marijuana in the first place. 

Now that he’s out of the league, Long feels more empowered to speak up. Good for him.

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A closer look at Eagles' 2019 defensive line without Chris Long

A closer look at Eagles' 2019 defensive line without Chris Long

After a few months of pondering his future, Chris Long officially announced his retirement on Saturday night.

The Eagles will miss him. No doubt. 

They would have a better team if he was still on it. 

But the main reason Long walked away is the same reason the Eagles think they are probably going to be fine without him. There wasn’t going to be much opportunity for Long in the 2019 season. So, barring injury, he wasn’t going to play that much anyway. 

During his two seasons in Philly, Long was a third-down specialist. He played some other downs too, but he predominantly came into games on passing downs and got after the quarterback. For an aging pass rusher with plenty left in the tank, that’s a pretty desirable role. No, it’s not starter snaps, but being an integral part of the Eagles’ top pass rush line has to be pretty fun. This season, Long would have been bumped from that position. 

The reason Long was on that pass-rushing line in 2017 and 2018 was because one of the other defensive ends (Vinny Curry, Brandon Graham or Michael Bennett) would slide inside to play next to Fletcher Cox at DT. Then Long would come on the field at defensive end to replace them. But this offseason, the Eagles added Malik Jackson, an interior rusher who will stay on the field for those third-down passing situations. 

This is the Eagles’ new top pass-rush line: Graham, Jackson, Cox, Barnett 

It’s not that Long wouldn’t have had any opportunity; it’s just that the role he had for two years was gone. He wasn’t interested in playing in a decreased role after feeling like he had two pretty productive years (he’s right about that; Long was productive in that role for two seasons). Long told Peter King that he’s a rhythm player and the Eagles were seemingly carving out a “player-coach” role for him. That didn’t interest him. 

Long said the Eagles were honest with him about the reduced role he’d see if he returned and Long was honest with them, telling the Eagles to plan as if he wouldn’t return. That’s what they’ve been doing. 

Here’s a look at the Eagles’ defensive line going into last season and their current defensive line: 

2018 

DE: Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Michael Bennett, Chris Long, Josh Sweat

DT: Fletcher Cox, Destiny Vaeao, Haloti Ngata, Bruce Hector 

2019

DE: Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Josh Sweat, Shareef Miller, Daeshon Hall

DT: Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, Tim Jernigan, Treyvon Hester, Hassan Ridgeway

Going from Bennett and Long being their top backup defensive ends to Vinny Curry and Sweat/Miller is a considerable drop-off. The Eagles basically traded away Bennett for nothing and never really adequately replaced him. Curry is a solid player but hasn’t gotten over 4.0 sacks in a season since 2014. The issue isn’t that Long retired; it’s that the Eagles lost both Long and Bennett. 

That could be a big problem if there’s an injury to Graham or Barnett. But if those guys stay healthy, the Eagles should be fine. Sweat or Miller or even Hall could fill that role as the fourth defensive end. In fact, if the Eagles want to develop one of them, this is a perfect opportunity to focus on limited snaps.

And it’s also worth mentioning that while the group of defensive ends is weaker this year, the group of defensive tackles is much stronger and deeper. Even though it likely ended Long’s career in Philly, the addition of Jackson was a good one. And if Jernigan can stay healthy, having him as a rotational player at his new salary is quite a coup. 

If the Eagles did want to replace Long with an outsider, they might have missed their window. There aren’t many free agents available and even if they want to add someone or make a trade, it would probably make more sense to see how Sweat, Miller, Hall and Joe Ostman perform this spring and summer first. As much as the Eagles will miss Long, there’s a chance they can get by with the group they have. 

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Eagles defensive end Chris Long announces retirement

Eagles defensive end Chris Long announces retirement

After a few months of contemplation, Eagles defensive end Chris Long has made his decision.

He’s calling it a career.

The 34-year-old announced his official retirement from the NFL on Saturday night and he did it, of course, on Twitter.

Not long after his official announcement, the Eagles congratulated Long, who became a fan favorite in Philly during the two years he played here.

Back in 2008, Long was the Rams’ No. 2 pick in the draft out of Virginia. He played his first eight years in St. Louis, before winning a Super Bowl in 2016 with the Patriots and then winning again in 2017 with the Eagles. He reached legend status in Philly during that Super Bowl run for helping create the dog mask phenomenon and for then rocking out during the parade down Broad Street.

And it was Long who pressured Case Keenum to throw that pick-6 to Patrick Robinson in the NFC Championship Game. In two seasons in Philly, he had 11 1/2 sacks and forced six fumbles.

In his 11 years in the NFL, Long piled up a clean 70 sacks to go along with 15 forced fumbles.

The Eagles will miss Long on the field and off it. Aside from being a highly productive player in his two seasons with the Eagles, Long was also a very highly respected member of the locker room. He was a favorite among teammates and his sense of humor — he created a Nick Foles shrine last year — was infectious at the NovaCare Complex. (The funniest part of the Foles shrine was watching Long’s mischievous smile as he watched a bunch of reporters gobble it up.)

Long had a long and productive football career, but, really, his legacy will be the work he’s done off it. That work is not finished.

Long was named the 2018 Walter Payton Man of the Year for his charitable efforts through the Chris Long Foundation. He clearly deserved the honor.

He’s given away his salary, raised millions for educational initiatives in cities across the country and, through his Waterboys initiative, has provided access to clean water for communities in East Africa for years.

While his teammates and coaches will be happy for Long, his departure does leave the Eagles a little light at defensive end. To his credit, Long told the Eagles to plan as if he wouldn’t be back. Long wasn’t interested in returning for a reduced role, which the Eagles told him he would have in 2019.

Without Long, the Eagles have Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Josh Sweat and Shareef Miller, Daeshon Hall and Joe Ostman as their defensive ends. Malik Jackson, signed this offseason, will play on third downs as a defensive tackle, taking stress off the ends, but the Eagles will still miss Long, who had been a third-down specialist during his time with the Eagles.

Last season, the Eagles entered the year with Long and Michael Bennett as their top rotational defensive ends. That was incredible depth they won’t have this season unless they make another move.

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