Hearing the news that Kyle Long is stepping away from football was difficult for me as a fan. He has been one of my favorite players going back to his draft day. BearGogglesOn and I would like to personally thank Long for his time here in Chicago.
The year was 2013 and the Chicago Bears were coming off a 10-6 season. Unfortunately, they still finished third in the NFC North and missed the playoffs. This was the year the Bears front office made the drastic decision to fire Lovie Smith despite a winning season. Phil Emery was the General Manager at the time and he tried buying himself more time with the move.
Emery also envisioned a more productive offense and hired Marc Trestman to shake things up and coach the team in 2013. This brings us back to when I became a lifelong fan of Kyle Long and the goodbye from this city and fans that I feel Long deserves.
I would like to personally thank you for everything you have done since the Chicago Bears drafted you in 2013. You see, that offseason I entered an NFL Draft contest that the Chicago Bears were holding. Knowing what the team needed, I placed in the top five of this contest. The prize that I won was an autographed mini helmet that you signed as the Chicago Bears first-round selection.
Winning this helmet was just the start. I obviously was excited that the Bears were bringing in an offensive lineman who is a part of such a famous NFL pedigree. You see, the Long name in the NFL is now as equivalent as the Mannings or the Barbers. Your father was obviously a great player, but you and your brother brought us more excellence to the NFL.
I remember my mother-in-law sending me a picture of you coming off the airplane the first time you arrived in Chicago. She works at the O’hare airport. Her response was that you were not the most pleasant person to deal with and she already had a negative opinion of you. Even then I defended you. I laughed and told her he’s probably tired and sick of dealing with people already.
I was right about you. For how physically dominating you were on the field, you have been a great addition for the Chicago Bears fanbase. The way you communicate and speak to fans on social media is a pleasant experience and you make a fantastic follow. Hopefully that does not change now that you are hanging up your cleats.
As a diehard Bears fan, I want you to know that all of your hard work and sacrifices have not gone unnoticed. Your first three seasons were one for the record books. The way you came into the league and dominated the line of scrimmage was like only a few before you. When you think of the great lineman of the Chicago Bears, you think of names like James “Big Cat” Williams, Keith Van Horne, Jay Hilgenberg, Jimbo Covert and of course Olin Kreutz.
For me, you make that list of Chicago Bears greats. It was unfortunate how you had sacrificed your body and were unnable to remain healthy over the last four seasons. This is what made you, you though. You left it all on the field and pushed yourself every play. If you had been able to stay healthy, you might have gone down as the top offensive lineman to play for the Bears.
For the rest of the Chicago Bears fandom, I truly want to thank you. You see, I have only ever owned one offensive lineman’s jersey. That jersey is yours. The liklihood of me owning any other offensive lineman’s jersey is very doubtful.
Your on the field ferocity fit the mold of what us fans love in a football player. Your loyalty and locker room presence fit the mold of what us fans love to see in a teammate. To see you step away from football is not unexpected based on your injury history, but it does not make saying goodbye any easier.
As someone who has been behind you from day one, I thank you. As someone who puts you on his offensive Bears Mt. Rushmore, I thank you. My only hope is that others see the work that you put in day in and day out. This team and city will not be the same with you gone and I wish you the best of luck going forward on your journey.
The Chicago Fanbase
The Chicago Bears will have a big hole to fill in 2020 with Kyle Long leaving the team. I would not be shocked if they look to both free agency and the NFL Draft. The team struggled on the right side interior (and left side) all season. If only Long was able to maintain his health and level of play the last few years. Seeing him retire without a Super Bowl ring is disappointing on many levels.
Do you have a favorite Kyle Long moment? Share on social media or in the comments.