Long doesn't feel pressure of following famous father
Posted: Saturday February 23, 2008 7:18PM; Updated: Saturday February 23, 2008 7:47PM
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INDIANAPOLIS -- In by far the most colorful anecdote of the day at the NFL Scouting Combine, Chris Long told us Saturday that he once as a child hid from Al Davis, hitting the floorboard of the family car when the Raiders owner appeared and started chatting up his Hall of Fame father, former Oakland defensive lineman Howie Long, at training camp.
Who knows, but that might have been one of the last times the younger Long could have gone unnoticed by anyone connected with the NFL.
When your last name is Long, and you play defensive line seemingly as well as your famous father, you're not going to blend into the scenery too often. But that's OK, because Long's high profile -- and obvious talent -- might just catapult him into the No. 1 spot of this year's NFL draft.
"I'm not afraid of any situation or any burden with the name,'' said the University of Virginia star in his press briefing at the combine. "I've been dealing with this stuff my whole life. But obviously it will be taken to a new level in a place like that, [if he were to be drafted by No. 4 Oakland]. It's pressure, but I tend to welcome any pressure with open arms.''
In a draft that's severely short on sizzle -- observers have likened it to 1991, in which Russell Maryland went first overall -- Long has commanded a good deal of the spotlight here in Indy. He's projected to go somewhere in the top three or four picks, and Long or Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan are the current favorites for the coveted and lucrative No. 1 spot.
But about his one and only meeting with Davis, which Long seemed to regret bringing up as soon as it was out of his mouth. He can't even remember how old he was at the time, only that the Raiders had a rule against family visitation at training camp, and he and his mom were violating it.
"Don't tell Al Davis that happened," Long said. "It was so long ago. I was a little kid. I just got down in the car. I was young enough to hide on the floor of a car, which means I was pretty young.''
But Long isn't taking a backseat to anyone these days. Not even his dad, the square-jawed and crew-cutted Howie, or his younger brother Kyle, who is a highly regarded left-handed high school pitcher who might go first overall in baseball's June draft.
"It's not his style to want to steal the spotlight from his sons,'' Chris Long said of his dad. "Everybody has a time, and this is our time. I've said, 'Dad, you're an old man now. It's not your time any more.' He's done a great job with that and I'm grateful.''
Long and the rest of the defensive linemen here will work out on Monday in the RCA Dome. Long will do everything but the bench press, he said, saving that drill for his March 18 pro day in Charlottesville, Va.
"I sprained my thumb in the bowl game,'' Long said. "For about two weeks I just let it rest. Once I started benching, I'm not where I want to be yet, and this will buy me another couple of weeks.''
The NFL will wait. A long time if need be. That's one of the advantages of having Long for a last name.