It appears Chris Long had the New England Patriots on the mind long before he joined the team. Then again, so did pretty much everyone else in the NFL.
The veteran defensive end, who signed a reported one-year contract with New England earlier this week, was one of many NFL players to voice their opinion on Deflategate, the deflated footballs scandal that arose from the 2014 AFC Championship Game and still is ongoing.
While most player reactions came in the form of short tweets or small soundbites, Long took his opinion to pen and paper, writing a lengthy post entitled “A Player’s Take On Deflategate” on the Players’ Tribune just one week after that game. Long, who was playing for the then-St. Louis Rams at the time, expressed the concerns that many had right when the maelstrom began: Just how big a deal was this?
“But is this really just a convenient scoop, gift-wrapped for the media to stretch into an epic saga when they needed it most,” Long wrote, “Or is this a legacy-altering scandal for (Tom) Brady, (Bill) Belichick and the Patriots?”
Keep in mind that Long’s reaction came before the Wells Report was published or sanctions were handed down to Brady and the Patriots. Long also admitted he isn’t exactly an expert when it comes to handling footballs — “The ball could turn into a small house pet in my hands and I wouldn’t notice” — but to him, the issue at hand went well beyond PSI.
“Let’s get down to it: This story isn’t as much about air pressure as it is about the cult of the New England Patriots,” Long wrote. “The Patriots are really good at two things: winning football games and not giving a s— what you think about them. This modus operandi has earned the Patriots an equal number of fans and haters. … I find it hard to believe Deflategate would be as big of a story without Belichick and Brady as the villains. Anybody heard about the recent Cleveland Browns texting allegations? I didn’t think so.”
Long did voice questions about the Patriots’ apparent desire for rule-bending, but he must have known he’d run into Belichick down the line, as he praised his future for the way he handled the whole situation:
“Bill Belichick is not only a Hall of Fame coach, but he is also the undisputed heavyweight champion when it comes to flustering members of the media.”
Thumbnail photo via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via St. Louis Rams defensive end Chris Long (91) stands on the field during warm ups prior to the Rams' game against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field.