Chuck Long. Those are two words that hopefully every Iowa football fan, and Iowa State fan from the 80’s, knows very well. Chuck Long is not only an Iowa football legend, but a collegiate football legend. An inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame, Long partnered with the man most commonly associated with the rise in Iowa football, Hayden Fry, to form one of the Big Ten’s most dominant player and coach tandems of any decade…
…But did all of this success at the amateur levels lead to success for Sir Chuck Long in the NFL? In his words at the 2016 Nile C. Kinnick Scholarship Brunch, “Not even close.”
Long, like the late Randy Duncan, was a first round draft pick. While he didn’t go number-1 overall, he was highly touted and was a Consensus All-American, Davey O’Brien Award winner, and three-time First-team All-Big Ten Conference performer. Long was taken twelfth overall by the Detroit Lions in 1986, where he mostly mopped up after other bad quarterbacks for a few years, and even got the chance, from the sideline, to watch Barry Sanders work his magic during his rookie year in the league. After that, Long was dealt to Los Angeles to the Rams, and eventually wound up right back in Detroit in 1991 where he retired. Here’s a look at Long’s career stats in the NFL compared to his four-plus years he spent at Iowa:
Stats at Iowa (via sports-reference.com)
Stats in the NFL (via pro-football-reference.com)
The stats speak for themselves. Just because you’re a Maxwell Award winner in a Hayden Fry system doesn’t mean a thing when it comes to the NFL. Long was runner up to THE Bo Jackson when he was in school and that meant absolute diddly when it came to being able to stand in the pocket and sling it against the big dogs. Sometimes the guys who seem to have all the tools just can’t seem to find an NFL system that’s right for them, and sometimes it’s the guys from the Division 1-AA of FCS programs who go on to tear it up week after week and year after year.
Keep an eye out for the third installment into this series, where we checkout another Heisman runner-up in Brad Banks.