Long, Blount hope for a different type of Super repeat

Staff photo by TOM KING Former New England Patriot Chris Long has enjoyed his role with the Eagles, on and off the field.

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Someone asked LeGarrette Blount if there was any part of him that would be happy if the New England Patriots emerged as the Super Bowl LII victor.

“Yeah, let’s not entertain that,” he said.

Of course he wouldn’t. The bruising running back has carried that New England Patriot mentality over to the Philadelphia Eagles after signing with them as a free agent in the off season. Both he and defensive end Chris Long, two key members on opposite sides of the ball have enjoyed their time playing in the City of Brotherly Love.

Different experiences, same result: Winning.

“They’re very different but we both went 13-3 in the regular season, won two games to get here,” Long said. “We both have physical practices, work hard, have unselfish players that buy into the scheme.”

Blount, of course, rushed for 1,161 yards and 18 touchdowns last year for the Patriots, but with the Eagles, he’s actually had a better yards per carry average (4.4 as opposed to 3.9 last year) despite way fewer yards (766) and touchdowns (just two). The Patriots went in a different direction with a bevy of backs, and Blount knew he’d be moving on.

Long, meanwhile, knew he wasn’t the best fit for the Patriots scheme and opted to not return as a free agent. No hard feelings, just needed a better fit, is what he’ll essentially tell you. He has 28 tackles and five sacks in a system that basically sends him after the quarterback and that’s it.

Neither will feel anything strange about facing New England on Sunday.

“You just have to look at it as another faceless opponent,” Blount said. “You don’t get personal, you don’t get emotional. We look at it as playing the New England Patriots and that’s it. I don’t look at it as playing my former team or anything like that. I just look at it as playing the New England Patriots. They’re the team we have to face in order to get to that ultimate goal we want.”

“If you ask Coach Belichick, he’ll tell you the past doesn’t matter,” Long said. “Live in right now, and it’s all about execution. So they definitely have a reputation, and it’s been earned, but he’ll tell you – I don’t want to put words in his mouth – but you’ve got to show up, the team that plays the best wins, and executes the best.”

Blount said he doesn’t hold any hard feelings, either.

“Naw, I understand it’s a business and there aren’t a lot of guys who stay with one team for their whole career,” he said. “You make lifelong friendships, you make friends with guys who become brothers and some guys who are going to be a part of your life for the rest of your life. That’s what you take from this. You don’t take anything else.”

Both players have been used situationally with the Eagles. Long, of course, has been an outspoken proponent of social reform, etc., and donated his entire 2017 season salary to charity. “I think whatever you believe in, you should speak on as an athlete. … Do I wish more players would speak out if they believe something? Sure, because you’d hope NFL players realize the platform they have.”

Meanwhile, he knows that the fact the Patriots have been on another platform – the winners’ platform at the end of Super Bowls – has them as the team America loves to hate.

“They have a lot of people who want to see them fail, for sure,” Long said. “When you’re on top that long, people want to see you fail. When I went up there, I had buddies who said, ‘Oh man, I have to root for the Patriots now?’

“But they do so much the right way, it’s a class organization, and they’re perennially here in situations like this.”

Blount says the Eagles take the “Brotherly Love” part of Philly literally, calling the Eagles

“a band of brothers.”

“We love each other and we have each other’s back,” he said. “We’ve been like that since the beginning of the season. It’s not a thing a guy wouldn’t do for another guy (on the Eagles). We know that we’re going to do things, that guys have your back when you step on the field of battle. … It’s incredible and that’s what has gotten us this far.”

It’s a distance Blount can’t believe he’s reached again. And against his old friends.

“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” Blount said of a chance at yet another Super Bowl ring. “There aren’t a lot of guys who go from a team that won the Super Bowl to a team that’s completely different, opposite conference, and you get back to the same game and you ultimately face the team you won it with last year.

“So yeah, it’s something you have to take full advantage of because it’s not an opportunity that comes around a lot.”

But for Long and Blount, it’s come around often enough.