Former Eagles defensive lineman and two-time Super Bowl champion Chris Long has been officially out of football for nearly a full year, and his transition into the media world has been pretty fruitful.
But there was a time, last fall, when Long nearly returned for a third season with the Birds.
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Eagles fans knew the door was open - Long joked about a possible return online last July, and then was characaterized as "not ruling out a comeback" with the Eagles in mid-September.
This week, however, Long provided new context about his near-return in Philly, and gave a pretty interesting answer when asked why it didn't work out.
Long appeared on the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast with Jimmy Traina this week, and as the two discussed how football players would handle a shortened offseason, Long started talking about the near-return:
LONG: When I was close to coming back, this year, in Philly, like - I don't think I needed that much time at all. I trained a little bit, and I know this is kind of a nugget for you, Jimmy, but I was maybe two and a half weeks on the field, training, I felt great, I felt like I could run out the tunnel and play. I had never done that before.
I was pretty close. But I can't say why, exactly, but - it just didn't work out. But I will tell you that, you know, I was ready.
TRAINA: When were you supposed to come back?
LONG: When was I supposed to come back? I was never 'supposed to' come back. I was just close to coming back, and it just didn't work out. It was earlier in the season.
Long then tried to stear the conversation back towards the larger angle, but Traina went back for one more follow-up:
TRAINA: Did you not come back because of you, or the Eagles?
LONG: Ah, we can cut that out, Jimmy. [Laughs] We're just gonna move on. I'm not gonna tell you. I'll tell you offline.
Hmm. That sure makes it sound like the Eagles were responsible for the missed connection, don't you think?
Long said last April that he stepped away from discussions with the Eagles because they were offering him a very small role in their 2019 defense, which is understandable.
But if that was true in April, why would Long suddenly be "pretty close" to returning in September just to have talks break down over the same point of contention? Did something else get in between Long and the organization?
We'll probably never know the details, but as Traina said after Long put the clamps on his answers, it sounds like a good story.
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