Chris Long hasn’t played on a winning team in his eight years in the NFL, so he signed with an organization that hasn’t had a losing record since 2000.
“I was very open-minded when it came to my free-agency situation this year,” Long said Thursday in a conference call. “Obviously the Rams felt it was time to move in a different direction, and I wasn’t bent out of shape about it. It was time to move on for me, as well.
“A fresh start is great, and I just wanted an opportunity to win, and an opportunity to be a part of something like this organization is great. And having the opportunity when it came about, I was very excited. I knew it was where I wanted to be.”
Long already has started to acclimate himself with teammates new and old on the Patriots.
“Danny Amendola is one of my good buddies, so he definitely filled me in on what the culture’s like, what a great place it is,” Long said. “I spoke a lot with Rob Ninkovich since my signing. He reached out to me. He was very welcoming. I talked to Jabaal (Sheard), as well, briefly. I told him how excited I am to join their group and excited to get to work.
“I respect those guys’ game a whole lot. I respect everyone on that defense, and I’m just excited to be a piece of the puzzle.”
Long played with Amendola on the Rams from 2009 to 2012. Long also has a connection to New England, since his father, Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long, was born in Charlestown, Mass., and went to high school in Milford.
“It’s certainly cool to go back and play somewhere where my dad grew up,” Long said. “There’s a lot to his story coming out. For me, it’s not some place I have visited a whole lot when I was a kid. I’ve been there, and as much as anything on a personal level, I’m just excited to be a part of such a great sports town, sports city. I can’t think of a better fan base or collection of great pro sports teams and how passionate these fans are about football but also with the Celtics and the Bruins and the Red Sox. They love all their teams, and they’ve won championships in everything in the past several years. It’s a special thing to be a part of.
“The family thing is real cool, and I’m sure when I get up there, some things I hadn’t anticipated from a family standpoint will kind of develop in a great way. I might meet some people that say, ‘Hey, I went to high school with your pops,’ mutual friends. That’s part of it, and it’s very cool to me, but the sports city part of it, I’m really excited about it, just from the day I was lucky enough to sign, the fans’ outreach on social media and the excitement, you can really feel it.”
Long dealt with knee and ankle injuries over the past two seasons with the Rams, recording just four sacks in 18 games. Long wouldn’t use the ailments to justify his lack of production, though.
“The last two years, I’ve made no excuse about it,” Long said. “I feel very good right now, and that’s all I can say.”
Thumbnail photo via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images