Was Long a better player in his era? That certainly may be the case. Mack’s had a slightly better start to his career statistically, but the argument that Long made his team better makes sense.
It’s also easy to argue that part of the reason Long was able to thrive is attributable to his supporting cast in Los Angeles. The defensive end was flanked by Pro Bowlers like Rod Martin, Vann McElroy, and Hall of Famer Mike Haynes in 1984. Nose tackle Bill Pickel — 36.5 sacks from 1984-1986 — and franchise all-time sack leader Greg Townsend were enough of a force to ensure teams couldn’t double-team Long in his prime without paying for it elsewhere.
Friday’s Rise ‘n Grind takes a look at the incredible things NFL players are doing off-the-field.
One of my favorite things about the NFL is all the amazing things players do in their communities. From charity softball games to silent auctions raising money for good causes to youth football camps and hospital visits, there’s hardly a day that goes by where an NFL player isn’t making a difference in their community.
Before the hit on Palmer, this rivalry began to crescendo with a Bengals’ win at Heinz Field on December 4th, 2005. It seemingly sewed up a division title for Cincinnati and Houshmandzadeh wiped his cleats with a Terrible Towel to the chagrin of Steelers Nation.
The rivalry hasn’t dissipated since, despite what Steelers fans will tell you. From injuries to Andy Dalton, Ryan Shazier, those given out and received by Vontaze Burfict, as well as the near-prison yard scene that was the 2015 Wild Card game, bad blood is at the root of these two teams.
Personally speaking, I grew up in an area where the Palmer hype was born. He went to a local high school (Santa Margarita Catholic) and then vaulted himself to USC. When he and the Bengals began winning, people in Southern California suddenly began paying attention to that small-market team in the Midwest with the cool helmets.
At the time, Palmer was mentioned among the league’s elite. The media can definitely be knee-jerk reactionaries at times, but they weren’t far off base when they mentioned Palmer’s name with the likes of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning as the best quarterbacks in the league at the time.
We’ll get to what could have transpired, should Palmer have not been injured, in a second. But, before we do, we have to look at what happened with Palmer and the team post-injury.