Chicago Bears guard Kyle Long has been involved in two recent confrontations during practice. His first, a non-physical altercation with Akiem Hicks that never came to blows, was mild. His second was wild.
During a Wednesday night practice and game simulation courtesy of coach Matt Nagy, Long ripped off the helmet of teammate James Dalton and punched him several times before throwing the helmet. Long was ejected from practice, and never returned–and was also apparently sick on the sidelines afterward:
The Bears had three separate altercations that came in three straight practices, but Nagy seemed most upset about the Wednesday evening fisticuffs involving Long:
“You know, yesterday to me was a little bit more of a pillow fight…Today I thought was a little bit, just like I said, it’s disappointing…Again, it’s all that kind of stuff where we’re more mature than that. I know that I personally expect more from us.”
Long Didn’t Travel With Bears to Preseason Game at Giants
As Brad Biggs reported and Adam Hoge confirmed, Long didn’t travel with the team to their preseason game against the Giants in East Rutherford Friday night:
It seems that Nagy’s disappointment led to a punishment of sorts for Long. Long, a veteran and key member of the team’s offense offensive line, has always been a fierce competitor, and this kind of behavior isn’t so new for him practice. He and Akiem Hicks also had a minor altercation during training camp in 2018–one that didn’t involve fisticuffs.
In 2017, Long was also publicly criticized by his father, Hall of Fame pass rusher Howie Long, regarding his temper. In 2017, after Kyle was removed from practice for multiple altercations during team drills, the elder Long said that his son had to get his temper “under control.”
Bears GM Ryan Pace Won’t Respond to Long’s Punishment
When asked about the punishment and Long’s absence during a pregame interview, Bears’ GM Ryan Pace refused to comment on it at all, stating the situation was an “internal matter.”
After the game, Nagy echoed Pace’s sentiments, only saying that while preseason fights happen, Long was disciplined because his outburst “was at a different level.”
Can Bears Move on From Fights?
While these types of physical altercations are the norm during NFL training camps, they hadn’t happened during Nagy’s tenure prior to this week. Whether team chemistry has been altered will be evident soon enough, but Nagy has a track record of prioritizing positivity and learning from mistakes. This incident with Long marks the first time he has taken any type of disciplinary action as Bears head coach.
The Bears’ first game last season in which they lost to Green Bay after leading by 20 points in the second half is a good example of how the coach utilized a negative experience and helped his team learn from it. Nagy doesn’t dwell in negativity–he moves on swiftly, so don’t expect much more drama going forward.