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There's No Subject He Will Avoid : Raiders' Howie Long Is a One-Man Talk Show

January 01, 1986|MARK HEISLER | Times Staff Writer

Vaudeville might be dead, but Howie Long isn't, so the Raiders produced him at Tuesday's media breakfast.

This is always an event worth noting, as evidenced by Long pronouncements such as these:

On the Patriots: "I'm not looking ahead to anyone. If we beat the Patriots, it'll be an accomplishment. We've got a problem. They're good. They're not doing it with mirrors. . . . But it's not like we have to fly to Russia and fight Ivan Drago. It's just the Patriots."

On obsession: "If there's someone who thinks about football more than I do, I'd like to meet him. Because he'd be the only person I have anything to talk to about at breakfast. Bill Pickel and I sit there and we don't say a word to each other.. . . He thinks I have problems. I know I have problems. But I'll get 'em worked out afterward, in about 10 years."

On local expectations: "I'd love to see the L.A. fans tear down the goalposts. I'll give you an example. Mike Haynes comes here in '83. We win the conference championship. He's expecting champagne, people jumping up and down. People are just cutting their tape off and getting ready for the next week. It's no big deal. This is the 10th or 12th conference championship, I'm not sure. We've been to 30-some odd playoff games. We've won three Super Bowl games. It is expected here.

"There's no incentive to win in this league. Everyone gets what the winningest team gets, so there's really no incentive to win other than ego, so this guy with $60 million can say, 'Hey, mah team won the world championship, son .' And there are a few guys with big egos. But I'd have to say our guy will do whatever it takes to win. If we don't get there with the talent he's assembled, shame on us. There might be a lot of guys looking for jobs."

On emotion: "Sky-high is a momentary thing. I've become kind of like a shark. You just have to show up, prepare, get the job done and show no emotion. It's a long year. You can get emotionally drained. Especially in our division. Every week is like a Super Bowl. I mean, I don't know what we did in the '70s, but they hate us, for sure. They're waiting for us. They've got Raider week and Raider T-shirts. They're hanging Lester Hayes by the neck in Denver. They're crazy. They really do hate us."

On rookie linebacker Reggie McKenzie, who survived the challenge of Jerry Robinson:

"I don't think anyone in football right now could dethrone Reggie McKenzie. . . . We're not hiding him behind five or six people. Not that they're hiding Mike Singletary (the Bears' All-Pro middle linebacker), but they're lining up seven or eight guys up on the line. There are very few instances when Mike Singletary is forced to take on a 280-pound guard head-on."

On Raider defensive line coach Earl Leggett, a Louisiana native: "He's a big Southern guy. 'We do this down South, we go huntin' down South, the sun rises and sets down South.' And he's got a kid from Queens (Pickel), he's got a kid from Charlestown (Long), he's got a kid from Watts (Greg Townsend). He can't find a football player down South! And now, the biggest badass I've ever met in my life, Mitch Willis (a Texan, who is notoriously good-natured), who was totally unbearable prior to his big evening, gets two sacks (against the Rams) and almost picks off a pass. They say if he'd picked it off, he would have scored. That's baloney. 'Cause I would have tackled him. No way I'd have let that big red-neck score."

On his tryout: "The Raiders have never played a big part in the scouting combines. When they come up and work you out, it's real quiet. Earl came up, asked me to get in my stance, take one step, plant and come upfield. I ran one 20-yard dash for him. Green Bay's got you benching your weight 30 times, they've got you running over these cones, they're testing your fat. Dallas told me I had too much fat. I couldn't figure out if a train went here and there and stopped three times and picked up four passengers--I mean, what has that got to do with playing football? Dallas is a joke. I have no fondness for them, at all. And I don't even play in their division."

On another non-division foe, the Rams: "I was a little disappointed in Eric Dickerson saying we didn't beat them, they beat themselves, this, that and the other thing, their offense was conservative. I swear to God, they've run the same plays all year. So unless John Robinson was hiding something, that's a boring offense. But they can afford to be boring. You've got this guy back there who can just do it. You go to get him, he puts it into fifth gear. I've never experienced that. Tony Dorsett just ran out of bounds on us."

On his native Boston (Long was wearing a Celtic T-shirt):

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