Sunday will be Pro Football Hall of Famer Howie Long’s 59th birthday, and he’ll have quite a way to celebrate. His sons, Chris and Kyle, will face off in an NFC wild-card game in Chicago.
But according to Kyle, a Bears' offensive lineman, the game might not be a stress-free family reunion. Then again, what family reunion is stress-free?
“It’s going to be a fun birthday for them,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times about his parents. “I don’t think my mom will be able to watch. She’ll be there, but she’ll probably have her eyes covered the whole time. They love their kids. They’re going to be happy to be here. I think everybody’s just happy.”
Apparently the two brothers — Chris, the Eagles’ pass rusher, is three years older — aren’t planning on exchanging any pleasantries on the field. Though they’re not likely to line up directly opposite one another on most snaps, they’ll probably collide at some point, especially in the run game. Chicago is 27th in the NFL in passing plays as a percentage of total snaps.
Still, Kyle Long can’t completely ignore that his brother will be one of the defenders trying to invade the Bears' backfield this week.
“They tell us to tune out the outside, you know, media, stuff like that, but you can’t tune out your family,” he said to NFL Network’s Stacey Dales on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, I’m playing against my family this week. You’ve got to look at it as just another dude out there.
“He kind of looks like me, possibly, but on Sunday, we’re not related, so I’ve got to focus on my job.”
Brothers facing off in NFL action isn’t totally uncommon. Peyton and Eli Manning were the faces of their franchises until the elder Manning retired in 2016. They played three times as pros, with Peyton Manning going 3-0.
There are also the Watt brothers: Houston’s J.J., Pittsburgh’s T.J., and the Chargers' Derek. And the Pounceys: Mike of the Chargers and Maurkice of the Steelers.
Nick and Zack Martin are offensive linemen for the Texans and Cowboys, respectively. Mychal Kendricks played this season for the Seahawks and brother Eric was with the Vikings. Jason Kelce is an outspoken offensive lineman for Philadelphia and Travis Kelce is a flamboyant tight end for Kansas City. The Seahawks defense features twin brothers Shaquill and Shaquem Griffin. Twins Jason and Devin McCourty are both in the Patriots' secondary.
But there’s always added interest when siblings end up playing against one another directly, like the Long brothers might on Sunday. They’ve only faced each other twice before in their combined 17 seasons in the NFL.
Kyle Long said he probably won’t talk to Chris during game week, or if he does, he won’t have much positive to say.
“No good communication,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll get questions all week about my brother. But he’s on the other team, so I gotta figure out a way to beat him.”
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