Thank you Pats Nation. As a player you’ve given so much support to, I owe you an explanation as to why I’ll be moving on in FA… even if it isn’t a big deal. This year and this opportunity gave me a ton. I made lifelong friends in a great locker room and became a champion. I’m so thankful that Coach B (the GOAT) took a chance on me and allowed me the opportunity to play a small part in this wonderful year. This has zero to do with money, etc. It’s the right move in my heart because I want to get back to being the player I was before. I’m thankful for my role this year, but as a competitor, I’m itching to do what I do best. It was important to say thank you personally. You may not remember me much, but I’ll always remember y’all!! #driveforfive #missionaccomplished
Once again, another veteran NFL player comes to New England to win a ring and succeeds. Chris Long joins the pantheon of Patriots legends like Rodney Harrison, Corey Dillon, Darrelle Revis and a handful of others who got sick of losing, took pay cuts to get here and became champions. And what he accomplished as a Patriot will never be undone.
It was the perfect one year marriage. Long brought the Patriots edge defense and leadership, they gave a son of Charlestown the chance to know what winning actually feels like for the first time in his career. In one season in Foxboro he won almost half as many games (17) as he did in eight seasons with the Rams (39).
Granted, this is probably a coaching/personnel decision more than it’s Long’s choice. He played a lot of snaps early in the year when Rob Ninkovich was suspended. But as Trey Flowers and to a lesser extent Vincent Valentine emerged as pass rushing threats, his playing time went down.
In the Super Bowl he played his fewest snaps of the season, only 15 plays (out of the 49 the Falcons ran) as a pass rush specialist. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t have a profound impact on the game. The holding penalty he drew on 3rd down with Atlanta up by 8 and on the edge of field goal range was gigantic. Fun fact: Last year teams had 1st & 10 from their opponents’ 22 yard line 109 times, and were forced to punt only once: On that set of downs. If Long made no other play last season – and he did – that one earned him his pay, his ring and our gratitude.
Even after all this time, it’s still hard to wrap my brain around the fact players come to New England to chase titles. 20 years ago the Pats couldn’t hang on to their own stars, much less sign anybody elses. And it was only the 90s when MLB players were specifically having it written into their contracts that they couldn’t be traded to the Red Sox. Now we’re the place where true winners want to be.