LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long couldn't be happier to see his son land in Chicago.
"This is to me one of the crown-jewel franchises in football," Howie Long said Friday after his son Kyle, an offensive lineman, was chosen with the Bears’ first pick. "There’s not a lot of them. The town, the history of the organization, the great players who’ve played here, the expectations in the building, it’s important.
“And it doesn’t hurt to have a franchise quarterback, much as that pains me to say.”
Kyle Long took an interesting route to get to the NFL, beginning his collegiate career at Florida State as a baseball player before academic problems forced him to eventually enroll in Junior College, where he began to resume his football career.
"It’s kind of hard putting into words" Howie Long said. "It’s been an interesting journey. The guy you see today is the same guy you see at four years of age. Having three sons, we’ve come to the conclusion, and I’m sure most parents would come to the same conclusion, that no two children are the same. Kyle has always been an extremely kind person, good guy, physically gifted.
“And in some ways, maybe the gifts he had in so many different areas have been kind of a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ trying to find a direction. I think through experience and life’s journey he figured that he was wired best for football. That seems to be what makes him happy for a lot of reasons.”
The Long family watched the draft Thursday night from their family home and traveled to Chicago Friday morning.
"It was really interesting," Howie Long said. "All of us were together. In our library in the house, we had a little war room. ... It was just great. The whole family was there, and a couple close friends."
Long said he had a premonition his son would be taken in the first round as he watched the draft unfold.
"I knew when the kid (Justin) Pugh came off the board as the fifth tackle and the two guards were off the board, I kind of felt like -- and I won’t share the two or three teams that were picking after Chicago -- but I felt like it was a really good opportunity maybe that Kyle would go somewhere between 20 and 28, 29, without tipping my hand. But he would have been off the board. I’ve heard people say, ‘Well, they should have traded down and got him in the second round.’ He wouldn’t have been there.
"The draft is kind of an evolving process and none of us know how it’s going to unfold. How many tackles go off the board? How many guards go off the board? We knew there was going to be a run on offensive linemen, we just didn’t know it was going to be that extreme. And if you need a lineman, who’s next up, and who do you have on your board? And value becomes in the eyes of the beholder."