Thankfully, Super Bowl LI wasn’t just about Tom Brady and his head coach.
Over 18,000 days ago, Howie Long hoisted his first and only Lombardi Trophy over his head. and on Sunday, his son Chris joined his father in the rare fraternity of Super Bowl winners and the Patriots miraculous comeback win ushered in the seventh father/son combo to win a Super Bowl.
Howie Long was drafted by the Raiders in the second round of the 1981 NFL Draft. Long immediately became a starter because of his rare combination of size, strength, leadership and tenacity. In 1983, after his third season he helped guide the Los Angeles Raiders to a 38-9 dismantling of the Washington Redskins in the Super Bowl. The Raiders never trailed that day and they won so easily that NFL Film later referred to Super Bowl XVIII as “Black Sunday”.
Chris Long’s path to a Super Bowl Championship was much harder than his father ever experienced. Chris was drafted in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. Chris was not the player his father was but many of the teams he played on weren’t that good to begin with. He did record double-digit sack seasons in 2011 and 2012.
Long never made the postseason with St. Louis and he was let go after the 2015 season. Of course, Long signed with the New England Patriots, tasted playoffs for the first time in 2016 and he played a role, though a small one, in the Patriots unbelievable comeback in Super Bowl LI.
As a Raiders fan I’m upset that Tom Brady won his fifth Super Bowl and the debate over his greatness is clearer than ever before. Despite all the controversy it will be hard to argue against his ranking as the greatest quarterback to ever buckle a chin strap.
However, Oakland fans can at least smile under the guise of their hatred towards Brady and celebrate alongside the Long family. Howie Long played ten more seasons with the Raiders and they never won another title. Now, he can enjoy being a proud dad whose son has joined a rare group of men.
John Madden once said, “The only yardstick for success our society has is being a champion.”
Now Chris Long is a champion and that is a yardstick for success that very few players ever experience.
My congratulations goes to the both Chris Long and the Long family.
The Long combo isn’t the only father/son combination to win the big one that has Raider connections. Tackle Bruce Davis started at right tackle for the Raiders in Super Bowls XV and XVIII. His son, also named Bruce, was a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers when the defeated the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.