For the first time in 20 years, Howie Long will be absent from Fox's Sunday NFL pregame show.
And Long's got a pretty good excuse to be in St. Louis rather than Los Angeles on Sunday.
Long's sons, Chicago Bears offensive lineman Kyle and St. Louis Rams defensive lineman Chris, will face off against each other on Sunday.
As Brad Biggs notes in the Chicago Tribune lots of sets of brothers have played professional football (around 360, to be exact), but few have squared off on opposite sides of the line of scrimmage.
"I'll have, I am sure, a few opportunities where it will be Chris and I going against each other," Kyle, who is four years younger than Chris, told Biggs. "It is going to be really weird, but I already told him, 'Do you realize how lucky we are to have this problem?'"
Howie, a 6-foot-5 defensive end and Pro Football Hall of Famer, was a menacing presence in the NFL for more than a decade, so it would seem inevitable that his sons would one day play football at a high level. But Sally Jenkins and Rick Maese wrote in a recent Washington Post feature that Long never pushed football on his sons. The boys didn't attend many of Long's games, and Long says he secretly wanted them to pursue other interests.
While Chris was a gridiron standout starting in high school, Kyle initially thought about pursuing baseball. He accepted a baseball scholarship to Florida State, but he only lasted one semester before switching back to football and eventually transferring to Oregon.
"Subconsciously, I probably pushed him to baseball because I wanted somebody to do something where you didn’t just get hit every day," Howie said. "I fought it."
On Sunday, Long will be joined by a host of family members including his youngest son, Howie Jr., at the Edward Jones Dome for what will surely be a memorable afternoon.
"It's going to be strange but it is exciting," Howie Jr., who played quarterback in high school, told Biggs. "Offensive and defensive linemen going at each other is the most brutal one-on-one matchup throughout a game. I just hope the two of them don't lose their cool toward each other because I know it is going to be very heated."