Kyle continued to prove that he could dominate opposing defenses physically, excelling at the Senior Bowl and standing out at the Combine. He felt he had done enough to earn himself a spot in the NFL, but not even he thought he would be a first round pick.
“You never really expect to go – I was just trying to keep an open mind. In high school I sat through 23 rounds of the MLB Draft waiting to hear my name called every pick, so I just tried to keep my expectations pretty low and keep an open mind about what happens, but I was thrilled and I was ecstatic to hear the Chicago Bears drafted me,” he said.
The Bears drafted Long with their 20th pick to help an offensive line that had struggled. Not only did they recognize his natural athletic ability but his potential to become a long-term solution on their line. Long had met with Bears’ GM Phil Emery about his past and Emery felt he deserved a chance.
“When he was at Florida State, he flunked out,” Emery said. “He had some off-the-field issues. He recovered from those. He’s moved forward.” Emery believed in giving Kyle a second chance. “All of us have fallen in life at one point or another and the important thing is, do we get up and do we move forward? Do we try to get ourselves better and not only get ourselves better but get those around us better? And that’s what this young man has done.”
Kyle came in as a very raw player but has picked up everything that Coach Trestman and Coach Aaron Kromer have given him. He’s excelled immediately and continues to do so.
“I can tell you that from practice, Long is not making incremental increases in his play,” Trestman said. “He’s really ascending a little quicker than that.”
After enrolling back in college, Kyle never gave up on his dream no matter how long of a shot he had. He fixed his character issues and found himself as a person. He has gone through many challenges off the field as well as on the field, from overcoming lack of experience to playing well against players such as Ndamakong Suh and Jared Allen. Kyle has exceeded expectations and continues to give his all and get better every game. He’s a devoted football player who gives everything he has because he knows exactly how important football is to him.
“I’m forever indebted to football because it was my savior,” Long said. “My family was my support system but football is the cradle. Football is like my crib, it keeps me fenced in.”
So maybe he’s still Howie’s son for right now. You may even refer to him as Chris’s brother as Chris Long continues to have success on defense in St. Louis. But soon, as he grows with the line and the new offense you’ll realize he’ll make a name for himself. And pretty soon maybe you’ll say, “Oh him? That’s Chris Long. He’s Kyle’s brother.”