Have you ever gone through the line at the grocery store and scanned through US Weekly to see your favorite Hollywood actor, or athlete doing normal ass activities like I don't know...wearing no makeup, possibly looking a hot mess in sweat pants going on a coffee run?
Stars! They're just like us!
Well, that was the vibe I kind of got today when I was listening to Will Compton and Taylor Lewan's pod Bussin' with the Boys and their guest Chris Long.
A little background.
For my first four years of hosting videos for USA TODAY Sports, I worked for an outlet that was nationally recognized but had virtually no audience. In some ways, I think that was a valuable place to get my start. I could make mistakes, say things that were controversial, learn and grow in my craft, all without a ton of scrutiny. In other words, without a massive audience to chirp and troll me, it sort of allowed me to gain strength and solidify my own authenticity as an opinionated personality in the sports space.
Without that scrutiny, I learned to be rooted in my opinions. I had no reason to be gun shy or choose my words carefully.
When I got to Barstool, the game changed. Every tweet, every mannerism, every piece of content had a LOT of eyeballs on it. There were people in my DMs calling me out, subreddits made about me. I tell you what, that took some getting used to.
You want relevancy and an audience? This is what that looks like. Want to work for Barstool? Buckle up. It's gonna be a bumpy ride.
Apparently, that's exactly the same thing that happened with Chris Long as well. But instead of a dying form of media, it was a bad NFL team that was headed for relocation. And this is probably the only thing in life me and 2x Super Bowl champion Chris Long have in common.
According to the most recent Bussin' with the Boys podcast, Chris was opinionated AF when he played for St. Louis and because they were consistently trash he got really comfy in saying what he wanted when he wanted.
"For 8 years in St. Louis we were bad, so no one was watching us outside of St. Louis. So I got conditioned to say whatever the fuck I wanted."
Of course, then he ended up playing for the Patriots-- a place where winning was expected and athletes keep their opinions to themselves. Quite the juxtaposition.
The truth is, sometimes its really nice to start your career off in a place where the spotlight isn't as bright, especially when there are expectations set for you as the son of a hall of famer like Howie Long. With that comes a reputation and expectation that can be daunting on its own. Chris spoke about that with Taylor and Will, too.
When you're Howie Long's son, everyone assumes you've hit the genetic lotto. There were very few teams where I was a top 10 athlete on the team. I had to work for everything I had. Some people you can never convince of that. Those are people who are sideline people and people who don't understand that when you're marked like that, with a great career in the NFL for 11 years, 2 Super Bowls, 70 sacks, team captain, that's a dream for everyone else, but you still have these nobodies saying you'll never be your dad. Who gives a fuck. I had to deal with that pressure my entire life. And that made me tougher.
Can you imagine if Chris was drafted to the Giants or another team with crazy media criticism? Blessing in disguise to start a career in a place like Nashville or St. Louis, eh?
Moral of the story? Often time it's not trying to live up to your own, but rather other people's expectations, that trips you up. And what Chris was able to do, to become not only his own type of player but his own person, I think, has a lot to do with the fact he was able to grow and settle into himself without media and fans stepping on his vibe.
Check out the entire interview. You'll not find too many more interesting, or more down to earth, guys than Chris Long.
PS big ups to him rocking old school Blazer gear. LFG