But as you’d expect with a player so thoughtful, it was far from an easy decision.
The former Rams, Patriots, and Eagles defensive end told Peter King of NBC’s Football Morning in America that the decision was “complicated.”
“I learned to never make a decision based on just one thing,” Long said. “The decision to retire was complicated. It was based on health, which is still very good, and family, we have two small children, and football fit, which includes a chance to win and my role and geography.
“Philadelphia is where I wanted to play a couple more years. I love Philadelphia. But as a player I learned the most important thing to me is Sunday, and having a chance to be a big part of it. It seemed like player-coach was kind of the role that was going to be carved out for me—maybe playing 10, 12, 15 plays a game. I’m a rhythm player. I need to set people up, I need to be in the flow of the game. If I sit on the bench for three series, I can’t get rhythm, and I’ll get cold and maybe I’ll hurt myself. Some people think that’s great—play less and you won’t get hurt. Man, I want to play ball. In Philadelphia, it didn’t seem there was much of a chance to compete there.
“But they were honest with me the whole time. I appreciate the honesty. I’ll always love Philadelphia and the Eagles, but I didn’t want Week Four, Five, to come around and people think, Whoa, where’s Chris? Did Chris retire? I’d rather do it this way than just fade out. And I didn’t want to start over again across the country somewhere.”
Long could have easily found another place to play, and another place that would have given him the expanded role he wanted. Instead, he chose to walk away, into what is doubtless going to be a retirement as productive as his football career was.