INDIANAPOLIS -- In by far the most colorful anecdote of the day at the NFL Scouting Combine,
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
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
"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.
• That makes it two losses in a row for the Patriots. Dallas won the
All kidding aside, Thomas' decision came down to his desire for a homecoming. He's a native of Pampa, Tex., played at Texas Tech, and has tons of family in the Dallas area. His deal in essence is a one-year contract that's worth a possible $3 million -- $1 million to sign, $1 million base, and $1 million worth of incentives.
Thomas's agent, the always available
"It's his hometown team, where he went to school, where he was born and raised,'' said Rosenhaus, adding that Thomas grew up a huge Cowboys fan.
The Patriots may not admit it, but sources in New England told me that Patriots V.P. of player personnel
When it's all said and done, I'd be surprised if Thomas signing with the Cowboys winds up being a boon to Dallas or much of a blow to the Patriots. His recent history of headaches and concussions would scare me a bit if I were the Cowboys.
• A few draft analysts have Illinois junior running back
"There are positives and negatives to it,'' Mendenhall said of his lean track record. "One of them is you haven't taken a lot of the beating as some of the senior guys. But at the same time, you don't have as much experience.''
Mendenhall was just trying to be balanced in his self-assessment. Running back is the position that most often translates to early-career success in the NFL, where a rookie (see
• Free agency opens Friday, and here's a sobering reminder for all those who can't wait for their favorite team to run out and make a big-money splash in the market: The New York Giants last year signed exactly one free agent, for one year, at $1 million. That was linebacker
The Giants won the Super Bowl despite hardly participating in free agency, and therein lies the lesson. New York's unexpected championship had more to do with its impact 2007 draft class, and the maturation of some of its young key veterans who were selected in recent drafts.
• Though Washington very much wants to re-sign him as their insurance policy behind starter
Collins, who helped the Redskins win their last four regular season games after Campbell suffered a season-ending knee injury, isn't going to break the bank. But a two-year deal in the range of $2-3 million a season is reasonable to expect.
Another team to potentially be in the market for Collins is St. Louis, which just hired ex-Redskins offensive coordinator
• I know one prospect who's going to take a tumble in my next mock draft. Cal receiver
I hereby amend the notion that Jackson could go 11th overall to Buffalo. The Bills are much more likely to be in the market for a big-body receiver such as Oklahoma's
• Speaking of the Wolverines, Michigan offensive tackle
If I had to snap off how the top five picks of the first round will go down right now, I'd have Long in the No. 2 spot to St. Louis. That's contingent on No. 1 Miami passing on Boston College quarterback
Here's my up to the moment top five, with the reminder that I'm doing my next mock of the first round next Thursday:
1. Miami -- Chris Long, defensive end, Virginia.
2. St. Louis -- Jake Long, offensive tackle, Michigan.
3. Atlanta -- Matt Ryan, quarterback, Boston College.
4. Oakland --
5. Kansas City --
• Even though it's only a one-year incentive-laded deal that
With Grossman signed, there's really only two unrestricted free agent quarterbacks of note: Collins, and San Diego backup
Grossman staying in Chicago only makes it more likely that teams needing a veteran quarterback option will come after Collins.
• Doesn't sound like Giants general manager
"That's just media stuff,'' Reese said. "It doesn't bother me. That's just media stuff. Jeremy's our starting tight end, and he's going to be 100 percent, and then we'll have two great tight ends.''
Reese went on to say that the Giants' Super Bowl win might make for a tougher decision on retirement for defensive end
"I think the decision could be much tougher now because he does have the ring,'' Reese said. "It could be much more difficult.''
• Got my first real exposure to Falcons new head coach
Smith at least showed me that he's a quick study, twice complimenting his new boss, first-year Falcons general manager
"I know this, we're 1-0,'' Smith said. "Thomas did a great job with the coin flip (on Friday, which gave the Falcons the No. 3 pick in the draft). So we got our first win.''
He added this about Dimitroff: "He's a super intelligent guy. It's been very communicative between us.''
Communicative. That's good, I think.