Why Bears' Kyle Long wasn't expecting Pro Bowl call from Emery

Why Bears' Kyle Long wasn't expecting Pro Bowl call from Emery
January 22, 2014, 3:30 pm
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Scott Krinch

The knock on Kyle Long coming out of the University of Oregon wasn't his ability, it was his lack of major college football experience.

Long only started five games during his time in Eugene before his name was thrown into the NFL Draft ring.

A superb performance at the Senior Bowl put the spotlight back on Long. He parlayed that and his combine showing into a first-round pick by the Bears last April.

When Bears general manager Phil Emery addressed the media following his selection of Long, he stressed that Long wasn't a developmental type of player and the team expected him "to contribute right away."

[RELATED: Long, Jeffery validate key piece of Bears GM Emery’s draft strategy]

Emery was right.

On Monday, Long became the first Bears' offensive lineman to garner Pro Bowl honors since guard Ruben Brown and center Olin Kreutz in 2006. Long was selected as a replacement for San Francisco 49ers guard Mike Iupati, who suffered an injury in his team's NFC Championship loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Emery revealed the news to Long, but he may have had to ask around for his Pro Bowl guard's phone number before making the call.

[MORE: Bears guard Kyle Long selected to Pro Bowl roster]

"I got the phone call from Phil Emery and it was pretty exciting," Long told CSN's Pat Boyle on SportsNet Central. "Well I changed my phone number halfway through the year so I don't think that Phil had my new number. So once he got that he had called me, and I think I knew that it was for me and I said, 'Who is this again?' And he said, 'it's Phil Emery, congratulations on making the Pro Bowl.' It was a real cool conversation that we got to have.

"Obviously, he gave me a chance here and some would say it was quite a reach to get me in the first-round. He trusted me and he trusted the coach and players around me to help get me where I'm at."

Before the 2013 season, the Bears had struggled to protect quarterback Jay Cutler. The addition of Kyle Long and three new members of the offensive line dramatically changed the landscape of Chicago's offense. As a unit, the Bears were tied with the San Diego Chargers for the fourth-fewest sacks allowed (30) in 2013. In addition, the Bears set a franchise record for total net yards (6,109) and finished second in team history in total points (445).

[ALSO: Jennings earns ticket to Pro Bowl]

In what was a surprise season by many throughout the league in regards to Long, the recognition comes as no shock to his father, Pro Football Hall of Fame member Howie Long Long and his brother, Chris Long, a standout defensive end for the St. Louis Rams.

"They were just really excited, really proud of me," Long said. "They've seen this story happen from the beginning, where a lot of people in Chicago picked up on Chapter 8, 9 and 10. These guys have been through this whole deal with me, starting off as a baseball player and then coming over to play football in college. And now have an opportunity to go play in a Pro Bowl."