HALL OF FAME PROGENY
The Rams DE and son of Howie Long had 8½ sacks in 2010. Chris changed his jersey number this off-season from 72 to 91, which he wore at Virginia.
DAN PATRICK:When's the last time you gave your dad a good pop?
CHRIS LONG: You don't want to put your hands on him when he's not expecting it because he could topple over. But when he sees you coming, he's pretty hard to contend with. He's got the old-man strength.
DP:When he needs to, he can call on it?
CL: Absolutely. He's not in too bad shape for 51.
DP:His hair still looks good.
CL: His hair is like 25.
DP:Which quarterbacks impressed you last year?
CL: I think [Denver's Kyle] Orton is really good. Anytime you play [San Diego's] Philip Rivers, you're in for a long day.
DP:Did Rivers yell at you?
CL: He did. He's a trash talker.
DP:What did he say?
CL: It's not worth repeating. He's a great player. But at the end of the day, you [keep saying to yourself], Don't talk back to him; he's a quarterback. Why are you even engaging? But he's a pretty good dude, too.
DP:You don't get a chance to hit quarterback Sam Bradford, do you?
CL: I don't want to. Sam Bradford is sacred. You can't touch him.
DP:Does he wear a pink jersey?
CL: He should wear a neon-red shirt. Stay 40 feet away. He should have a motorcade the size of the President's to get him home.
DP:Have you been invited to Bradford's place?
CL: We're neighbors. His apartment is pretty clean. I don't know if he wants D-linemen over there messing his place up.
DP:So you couldn't show up unannounced with a six-pack of beer?
CL:[Laughs.] I think I have to fill out some forms. Sam is a great neighbor, and I could go over anytime. But Sam likes to go to bed right after practice. Which I understand, because he's got a lot going on with this new offense. Sam's not throwing many parties over there.
DP:Why should I pick the Rams to win the NFC West?
CL: Just know that's our goal. We're going to play solid, physical defense. We have a lot of new pieces on offense. We have a great quarterback who's going to make plays.
DP:Chris, you're not getting me excited.
CL: On paper we're not going to be the most "exciting" team. That's not our thing. We have a lot of games against great teams. I don't think people are going to be tuning in to watch the Rams yet. But with everyone watching these big-name teams, we might be able to get some people's attention. I do believe we can win this division.
DP:I'm going to pencil you in for double-digits sacks.
CL: I appreciate that greatly.
DP:How about 11 regular-season wins?
CL: That'd be awesome. I have to give you the "We want to win 'em all" line. But 11 wins is pretty good. We're going to take it one week at a time.
DP:Do me a favor—for a change, take it two weeks at a time.
CL:[Laughs.] Yeah, we're just going to take this thing two weeks at a time.
"People have a hard time forgetting, and there have been a lot of guys paying the price. Not every guy in [the steroid] era did it. There were guys in our time who did it the right way."
—Jim Thome, Minnesota Twins DH, after becoming the eighth major leaguer to hit 600 home runs
Kurt Warner(left) told me he's still in good enough shape to win the starting job on more than half the teams in the NFL. But if the Colts called him to provide insurance for Peyton Manning, he would have no interest. "I would definitely not return to be a backup," Warner said. "If you're a competitor and want to play, that's the worst job in the world." ... Kirk Gibson says his Diamondbacks are not impressed by his home run off Dennis Eckersley in the 1988 World Series. "[The video] is played a lot, and they rip me about it," Gibson told me. "They like to have some fun with the old man." ... Former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon is part of a lawsuit against the league for ignoring concussion-related issues, although he's not sure what can be done. "The only way to protect the brain is not use [your head] at all," McMahon said. "You'd have to make any contact at all with the head a fine." ... U.S. women's soccer goalie Hope Solo(left) is O.K. with selling a sex-symbol persona if it brings fans to the game, but she said that had nothing to do with the outstanding ratings for the 2011 World Cup. "The nation stood behind us, and we were not wearing short skirts," Solo told me. "We were athletes. That's why we had so many people watching."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (PATRICK)
G. NEWMAN LOWRANCE/AP (LONG)
SIMON BRUTY (SOLO)
MICHAEL KOVAC/GETTY IMAGES FOR GQ (WARNER)