Former Chicago Bears offensive lineman Kyle Long made an easy, natural transition into broadcasting as his colorful, unique personality was already often on display during his playing days.
Long, an Analyst for CBS Sports, is very rare in this regard. Typically, we see and hear professional athletes being vanilla and corporate, whenever they speak to the media. Then, after retirement and a transition into broadcasting, all of a sudden this new human being, with a much more interesting persona, emerges.
It’s like magic! Buttoned up and dull whenever a microphone was in front of them while they were players, yet funny and irreverent later, as analysts and pundits. There are too many examples of this to even name. We asked Kyle Long why he thinks this phenomena exists, today on the CBS Super Bowl LV Media Zoom call.
In answering the question, he espoused his belief that we’re seeing a “paradigm shift;” more athletes realizing they have a very large public platform, and that they can use it to take stances on social issues and amplify their messages.
“I think we’re experiencing a paradigm shift,” he answered, “in that the athletes in the NFL, and other sports leagues are realizing the platform that they have, the impact they can have on the city that they play in, the state they live and the world around them, and I think it’s an amazing thing.”
There are many examples of this, but most notable are the athletes who showed solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Most of the sporting universe has stood up against systematic racism, and announced to the world where they stand in the battle for social justice.
In terms of how and why Kyle Long didn’t submerge his personality during his playing days, while so many other athletes do, he credits his family for that. His brother, Chris Long, won two Super Bowls and a Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. His dad, Howie Long, is Pro Football Hall of Famer and a legendary broadcaster with FOX.
Kyle Long, who made three Pro Bowls during his NFL career, discussed the advice that Chris gave him:
“He just said be yourself, everybody else is taken, and I’ve taken that to heart and more often than not, it’s a been a good thing when I’ve been myself.”
He also humbly acknowledged the times that being himself got him in trouble: “whether at practice or altercations or maybe I’ve tweeted something I shouldn’t have, but I hae no regrets, I’m confident in the person I am.”
“And I know that everyone else is taken, so I gottta be me.”
Kyle went on to mention a member of the Long family who sometimes goes unsung.
“I think one person in our family that goes extremely unnoticed in the process of being involved in the media, and in sport, is my mother, Diane,” he continued.
“And I can call on my mom a lot more than I can call on my Dad. She seems to have the human eleement figured out a lot better than most of us, but the transition has been made a lot better by my family and that’s because we know the game of football.
Long also said of his famous father: “in regards to advice for the shows and stuff, he was a great source of comfort for me in the league and in my transition.”
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGN, Sports Illustrated, Chicago Tribune and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.