Kyle Long is an NFL star, just like his father. Kyle Long is a Pro Bowler, just like his father. Kyle Long makes Campbell’s Chunky Soup commercials... just like his father. In this edited interview, Long discusses the Bears’ 2016 QBs in soup terms, why he cannot hang out with Odell Beckham, why Jay Cutler is a great teammate, how Pernell McPhee is carrying a torch from Lance Briggs, and what he thinks of Alshon Jeffery’s Super Bowl prediction.
You did these Campbell’s Chunky Soup commercials that you shot with five NFL players: Drew Brees, Eddie Lacy, Odell Beckham, Todd Gurley, and Eric Ebron. Anything that you learned about your co-stars that surprised you?
Yes. Most skill players are divas.
I got that sense. I saw Odell Beckham dancing. He seems every bit the goofball that he has been portrayed. What was it like hanging out with him?
He’s actually a very nice guy in person. Very childish, as you can imagine. But he’s somebody who people gravitate towards because he’s a celebrity.
Sure. But I mean, you’re all celebrities.
Uhhhhhh, Odell Beckham has star power. I’m just a fat, bald guy who pushes other fat guys around.
What was it like hanging out with Eddie Lacy, a member of the hated Green Bay Packers?
Now Eddie Lacy is a guy I could hang out with. He is a dude. I don’t think I’d be able to hang out with Odell’s crew. I think they’re too posh for me. But Eddie is the right amount of roughneck.
Cool. So the Bears this season played four different quarterbacks. They all have their strengths and their weaknesses. If you add Connor Shaw there are five quarterbacks. How would you describe each Bears quarterback of 2016 in Chunky Soup terms? What soup are they?
You have to tell me who played.
Okay, keep going.
Connor Shaw, Brian Hoyer, and Matt Barkley. Did David Fales play?
David Fales played at the end.
So that’s six. Because Cam Meredith was a quarterback in college. I’m counting him.
Okay, so Cutler, Hoyer, Barkley, Shaw, Fales, and if you want to count Meredith, that’s six. What soup are they?
Well, I would say that they are all unique. I will start with Jay. Jay would be everything you need. I’d probably say Cutler is something that’s spicy, because he’s got a little fire to him, which is awesome. So I’d say spicy barbecue seasoned chicken with beans would be Cutler, because he’s everything essential, he’s a health nut, there’s not a ton of cheese and stuff in there. It’s just exactly what you need.
Connor Shaw is a very tough dude. He pretty much snapped his leg in half in a game. I’ve been hanging out with him. So I’d say chilli mac, because he’s pretty chill.
Then you’ve got to go with the creamy chicken noodle for Matt Barkley, just because he just seems like a tough 14-year-old to me. I don’t know why. He’s teenage boyish. So I’ll put him as chicken noodle soup. And then David Fales — I don’t even know man. Probably clam chowder. There’s no real reason though. I’m just kind of naming soups. I’m trying to give soups human qualities at this point.
Sure. And Hoyer?
Hoyer. Shoot. (Thinking) Whatever soup originates in Cleveland. That’s what Hoyer would be. Whatever the Clevelanders invented from a soup standpoint.
I’ll look into that and I’ll list it.
You let me know, because he’s like the most proud Clevelander.
(Ed. note: According to Sandra Chance, the manager of Susy’s Soup & Deli, located less than two miles from Brian Hoyer’s high school St. Ignatius, chicken tortilla soup is native to Cleveland. In 2015, the chicken tortilla at Susy’s won 2nd place at a fundraiser sponsored by Catholic Charities of Cleveland.
“The owner (Michael Sharpe) has been cooking soup for over 30 years, so he knows the ins and outs,” Chance said when reached by phone Monday morning during what sounded like the start of the busy time at Susy’s. “That’s what keeps our customers coming back.”
I also reached out to two friends of mine from Cleveland, who tell me that Sokolowski’s University Inn makes a mean Wisconsin Cheddar and Redskin Potato, which Cleveland.com named one of the nine best soups in Cleveland in 2014.
Point being, if Brian Hoyer is looking for a nickname, “Chicken Tortilla Hoyer” and “Wisconsin Cheddar and Redskin Potato Hoyer” are certainly now on the table.)
Speaking of Bears quarterbacks, if you had to predict the Bears QB depth chart of 2017, what would it look like?
I don’t know man. I have no idea. I’m just trying to make sure I’m on the depth chart next year.
Fair enough. How are your injuries? You had the two this year.
Yeah, two surgeries. I’ve got the ankle surgery that I had about eight weeks ago, and I’m recovering well from that. That’s a slow process. And then I get to repair my labrum in the next couple weeks, which will be fun.
But overall you feel like you’ll be ready for 2017?
Oh, I’ll just be 100%. (Laughs.) I’ll be ready to roll for the season. It will be a long process, definitely, and my first time really dealing with injury or surgery. I’m planning on being ready for the season.
Obviously a question Bears fans have going into 2017 is “Will Jay be back?” You’ve been a huge supporter of Jay. I saw one of your tweets from last year where someone asked you who your favorite teammates were, and you said they were Jay, Forte, and Matt Slauson. You also called yourself the “captain of the Jay Cutler bandwagon.” Give us your best “Jay Cutler is a great teammate and he’s not aloof and you’re a jerk for thinking otherwise” story. Give me that story. Something the fans don’t know.
I’ll say that when I was going through my post-surgery process, I wasn’t able to go to the facility. I was gone for 3 or 4 weeks from the guys, and Jay is one of the people who made sure I was okay, who checked in on me, asked if I needed anything. He’s the guy who always invites me to his home for Christmas if I’m by myself. On Thanksgiving there’s always a plate with my name on it at his house, which I think is very cool.
He goes above and beyond everything that’s football. It spills into life. He’s a great guy. I think people are clueless about football and a lot of people want to act like they know what they’re talking about, and we let them do that. Jay just continues to be a great teammate. So I’ve really enjoyed playing with Jay. He’s a good friend of mine.
Is there literally a plate at his house that has your name on it?
No, there’s not. That’s a figure of speech.
I see. Let’s do some quick hits. Bears locker room, who is the one guy who nobody messes with? When he speaks, everybody listens?
Well, Pernell McPhee talks a lot, and he’s good at getting up and saying movie lines. He would be the Arnold Schwarzenegger, I guess. I just kind of sit in the back of the room. I’m not good at speeches and “rah rah” stuff, so Pernell McPhee probably.
Who has the most intense pregame ritual to get hyped up?
Probably Pernell McPhee.
What kind of movies does he quote?
I don’t play defense. Our side doesn’t carry on much. I just kind of put in my Hank Williams and try to stay in my corner of the locker room.
Let me throw some numbers at you. You guys allowed 27 sacks, which is a low for the Bears since the Super Bowl season in 2006. And I took a look at Jordan Howard’s numbers: he is the 3rd back in Bears history to have at least 200 carries and 5 yards per carry, along with Walter Payton in 1977 and Gale Sayers in 1966. Those I think are two very impressive statistics in a troubling season. What accounts for that success on the offensive line?
I think we have good players up front. And obviously Jordan Howard is a freaking stud. So any time he’s got the ball in his hands we’re doing the right thing.
Have you spoken with Jeremiah Washburn yet?
Did he call a meeting with the o-line? Did he call you?
He put the Bat Signal out and everybody flew in on their wings. (Laughs.) No, everybody just zip-lined in like the Goonies. (Pause.) I’m just kidding. Yeah, Washburn was there yesterday. (Ed. note: the interview was conducted January 17.) It was good to see him. Obviously with turnover like that there will be a group text or something like that, because everybody’s spread out throughout the country, and maybe even the world for some guys. So it will be good to get everybody together on the same page.
You now have two years with one coach and two years with another coach. How has the culture changed under the Fox regime from Marc Trestman in a way that fans don’t see?
I don’t even really remember playing for Trestman — it feels like it’s been that long now. It feels like Fox has been here for 10 years. There’s not really much I can do to compare and contrast. I’ll just say that each guy’s unique and, like every coach I’ve ever played for, they’re all different.
Sure. What did you think about Alshon’s Super Bowl prediction?
Alshon Jeffery: “I guarantee you we are going to win the Super Bowl next year.” #Bears— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) January 1, 2017
If you don’t think you can win the Super Bowl then you’ve already lost. I think Alshon’s a guy with amazing skill and talent, and he can do whatever he sets his mind to. If that’s leading a team to a Super Bowl then more power to him and I’ll be right there behind him.
I actually interviewed you when you were a rookie, and you talked about Peanut Tillman putting a tarantula in your bed during training camp.
Yeah, that was fun.
Laid down on my bed and there was a tarantula next to me... Either this is a prank or they are indigenous to IL ... pic.twitter.com/6DNxgrtUHi— Kyle (@Ky1eLong) August 2, 2013
Any tarantula pranks happening at Halas Hall these days?
No, no tarantula pranks. I think the time for pranks has come and gone. We need to get some wins now.