By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor
The Eagles will oficicially not have a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year take the field to start the 2019 season.
On Saturday night, veteran defensive end Chris Long announced his retirement on Twitter.
Cheers. Been a hell of a journey. Eleven years and I can honestly say I put my soul into every minute of it. Highs and lows. I’ve seen them both and I appreciate the perspective. Gratitude and love to those who lifted me up. pic.twitter.com/Ap8zi73Ifl— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) May 19, 2019
The move is a bit of a sad one, but certainly not unexpected.
Long had previously said he wanted his 2018 role or a similar one back (one that the team had already said was gone), he previously said that he was not interested in attending training camps, told the Eagles to proceed as though he was not coming back, pushed off his decision twice and would likely suffer a decrease in playing time.The Eagles re-signed Brandon Graham and Tim Jernigan while adding Malik Jackson, Vinny Curry, Shareef Miller and Hassan Ridgeway. Long would certainly have seen his role diminish and the Eagles would already have to leave one of Ridgeway, Miller, Treyvon Hester or Josh Sweat off the roster in 2019 without accounting for the roster spot Chris Long occupied.
The Eagles will hope that Shareef Miller, who is raw but has a very high ceiling, is able to develop into the type of player Long was, but on a cost-controlled contract.
Long played 11 seasons in the NFL between the St. Louis Rams, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. After being selected with the second-overall pick in the 2008 draft, Long appeared in 162 games and registered 333 tackles, 150 quarterback hits, 15 forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries and 70 sacks.
Long was a vital part of the Eagles first Super Bowl Championship in 2017.
What the Eagles may miss more than his play is his character. Long was an excellent locker room leader and a positive influence with his work with non-profits such as the Chris Long Foundation.
While Long may not be back with the Birds in 2019, fans can still hope that he remains active in the Philadelphia sports scene in other ways.