Since former Eagles defensive end — and Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winner — Chris Long decided to retire from the NFL, he’s since taken his extremely honest (and hilarious) personality to the podcast airwaves. He has a new show called “Green Light with Chris Long” and recently had one of his good friends, and Eagles tackle Lane Johnson, come by to chat — barefoot.
These two had an obvious brotherhood during the two years they played together in Philly — were the leaders of the “underdog” movement in 2017 and their friendship went beyond just the game. Johnson was driving through Virginia and called up Long to get together, which led to a very interesting (and wonderfully profanity-laced) conversation that spanned from Jason Peters to mental health, the 2017 Super Bowl run and quite a bit about Johnson’s Pro Bowl career.
On injuries and recovery
Johnson talked about his gym routine, which Long lauded as extreme, and particularly the focus he puts on getting his body to recover quickly. Not only does he — and a lot of the other lineman, and recently, the skill players — use 125-pound steel pipes to roll out their muscles, but he also puts a heavy emphasis on ankle flexion stuff.
He explained that your ankles can get still doing the same motion over-and-over, and so if you get a high ankle sprain — which he joked he’s gotten every year, “it feels good” — it helps get the scar tissue out and get your mobility back.
On Jason Peters
“One thing I learned, just from being around Jason Peters, One thing he does every day — he’ll get in the sauna, cold tubs every day, but he’s always doing core work. You should see the stuff he can do, it’s pretty damn impressive.”
Long went on to say that he’s glad Johnson brought up J.P. because it’s someone the tackle talks about a lot.
“J.P. to me, is not only a Hall of Famer, an all-time great — obviously in Philly, I played against him in Buffalo, and never got a chance to play against him in Philly — but, the guy is a legend. But, a lot of great players don’t want to pass it on to younger players, and one thing I noticed about him is he’s very open with the younger players. He wants to help.”
Johnson was quick to agree and said that Peters did that for him right away, too.
Then, both former teammates talked about how FAST Jason Peters is — with Johnson recalling a time they were messing around after practice and their jog somehow became a sprint race, and he was not so proud to admit that he lost to The Bodyguard. Long laughed, noting that Peters is about 10 years older and about 40 pounds heavier than Johnson.
Johnson said that when it comes to talent, there’s no comparison to Peters — someone who is 6’4, 350 pounds isn’t supposed to be as a quick as a DB.
“When I got there my rookie year, it was like in his 9th or 10th year, and I see that, and I was like ‘Holy shit’.”
But, Johnson emphasized that Peters has always been helpful since he got to Philly, and the veteran is also the kind of guy to pull you aside if you’re doing something that needs to improve, rather than put you on blast in front of everyone. He’s also someone who understands that young players are getting so much information at one time, Peters does a good job of breaking things down into a few simple things to work on.
Long acknowledged that a lot of former players get into coaching after their NFL career because they don’t know what to do, but he’d put a million dollars on Peters going into coaching when he finally does retire, and being great at it.
On mental health and retirement
Long talked about the challenges in making the transition to retirement, pointing to the ego being one of those obstacles. He asked Johnson what he’s doing as a player in his prime, to get right mentally, and to separate himself from the game.
Johnson said that it’s easy to get wrapped up into how good you are, and that leads to getting “really damn insecure” — and often players are putting on a facade.
“The thing is, communicating. And knowing that — I’m lucky with Brandon [Brooks] and some guys on the team that are very similar, so we can talk it out, because we’re very similar in that aspect. But yeah, it’s just the ego is the monster.”
He also recalled someone saying that retirement won’t be an issue if your identity is not with what you do, it’s not who you are, in relation to the news about Luke Kuechly retiring.
Johnson called Kuechly the smartest player he’s ever competed against, and pointed out that when the Eagles would play the Panthers, Kuechly would call out 6-7 of their plays out of 10.
Johnson: Running around like a Velociraptor on that field.
Long: With longer arms.
The Eagles’ tackle talked about players walking away from the game earlier, and how it’s eye-opening and really puts things in perspective. But, even more than missing the game, you think about missing the players and those relationships.
“Because when the games over, those guys are still there”.
On his 3rd Pro Bowl and successes
Johnson had just learned about his inclusion in the 2020 Pro Bowl the day before he spoke to Long, and he said that it’s the validation he looks for every season that he lived up to his potential.
“I’ve kinda built it up into a monster. I want to be that every year, and I feel like if I’m not that, then I’m declining.”
But then Johnson also admitted “It’s a big-ass party down there” and he was just looking forward to going and drinking a beer with Jason Kelce without having to go to practice.
They also talked about how guards probably have a harder time inside now-a-days, but Johnson said that he had a better year this season than during the Super Bowl run in 2017.
“As far as my power — being able to anchor on a bull rush better. Trying to make less pre-snap penalties.”
The OT did say that 2017 was impressive, going up against top defenders week-after-week down the stretch.
On his worst/most embarrassing game
Related to some of the mental health aspects of the game, Long mentioned that failures don’t just stop when the game is over, and that often times the fans will keep those moments fresh for the rest of their lives — including Johnson’s comments about the Patriots not having fun.
He then asked Johnson about a play or game he’d like to have back, and he brought up the third game of his career.
They were playing against Kansas City and he didn’t know a lot of guys in the league at the time, and in pre-game warm-ups he saw Justin Houston and his triceps. Johnson recalled doing well the whole first half — after all, he was blocking for Mike Vick, someone who could get 20 yards on a scramble. But then in the fourth quarter, he gave up three sacks in a row.
“What happened was, I was vertical setting and [Houston] was coming in, bull-rushing me. And so, I was trying to jump-set him. The sacks I gave up was jump sets, so I went out there over-aggressive, and tried to get on him fast, he just swiped the f*ck out of me three times.”
On the Super Bowl experience
Johnson said the whole thing went by pretty fast, and was kind of a blur. He said that they didn’t put any real pressure on themselves because they “weren’t expected to do shit”.
The two talked about the origin of the underdog dog masks, and it came about when they were sitting down with all the articles talking about how the Eagles couldn’t win. Johnson said that those opinions were up all over the building, including in the bathrooms.
“And then you [Chris Long] said, ‘Hey man, since we’re underdogs, we should get some underdog masks’.
It sounded f*cking stupid, but I’m stupid enough to wear something like that.”
They joked about risking being the butt of a Crying Jordan meme — with Johnson acknowledging he’d already been Crying Jordan-ed thanks to his suspensions. But, fortunately, that didn’t happen and they came away with a Super Bowl victory.
Johnson recalled the parade afterward, and said he just remembers following Jason Kelce around and seeing people everywhere — they were in trees, coming out of windows, sewers, everywhere. And by the time they reached the podium, they were “wrecked” but figured even though it probably wasn’t a great idea to speak, they didn’t want to miss their opportunity.
On the 2019 season
Johnson talked about the injury struggles from Week 1, and thought Malik Jackson was primed for a big year, alongside Fletcher Cox in the middle. But, out of the injuries, he was really excited for Greg Ward who, not only is a really positive guy with a great attitude, but balled out when he got the chance, and the other young guys who stepped up.
The two also talked about Carson Wentz who is “walking around dog shit all the time” and has to avoid stepping in — with Johnson saying he’s impressed with how the QB handled things. They were disappointed in how the season ended, but really just have to fix a few things and should be good moving forward.
The OT also said that Josh McCown was one of his favorite people, and he — like Long — has a lot of wisdom and knows how to get the team coordinated without rubbing anyone the wrong way.
- Chris Long joked that he still uses the word “we” like he’s still on the Eagles, and Johnson gave him the okay to still use the term.
- Johnson is from Texas, and his Dad is a bull rider — and Lane was named after Lane Frost the bull rider from ‘8 seconds’. The OT worked as a grave digger in high school, which is where he joked his traps came from, and all the stuff he learned about dirt (which he proved is a lot).
- Long talked about Johnson’s talent for recalling movie lines, and the OT admitted he’s an Adam Sandler guy and loves ‘Happy Gilmore’ and ‘Billy Madison’.