Asked what caused his reaction, Long said: “Just football. We’re out here beating each other up. I was a little frustrated and it boiled over and it was really unfortunate.”
In making his first public comments about the incident, Long revealed that he immediately regretted what he had done.
“I cost myself a lot of personal equity,” said the three-time Pro Bowler. “People don’t like to see stuff like that. It does not feel good to be the one that’s responsible for it. I’m trying to take ownership of it and move forward and all I can do today is show up and be the man that I know that I am and stack those days together.”
Bears coach Matt Nagy acknowledged last week that Long’s actions went beyond a typical fight in practice, saying “it was a little bit of a different level.”
On Tuesday, Nagy indicated that the Bears have moved past the incident but stressed that actions speak louder than words.
“Now it’s not about talking anymore,” Nagy said. “For us, it’s about everybody showing what we can do. It’s showing by your actions, whether that’s being a good football player or being a good person. I always tell my kids, ‘Don’t talk about it; be about it.’ So it’s time to start being about it.”
Listening to Long speak after practice Tuesday, it sounded like he received that message from Nagy loud and clear.
“This is a league about action; it’s not a league about talking about it.,” Long said. “The thing I need to continue to do is go out on a day-to-day basis and try to prove to the men in this locker room that don’t know me very well and who have some questions about my character, and just try to move forward and prove to them the man I am on a daily basis.
“It was wrong what I did and, in a lapse of judgment, that’s where I ended up, and it reflected poorly on the organization, the city, the offensive line room, and that was never my intention. Moving forward I intend to make amends.”
The incident last Wednesday night came four days after Long and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks were involved in a minor shoving match in the final practice in Bourbonnais.
“The Akiem and I thing, that’s the nature of two giants getting frustrated with each other over the course of time,” Long said. “Akiem and I are good buddies. But when we’re on the field, he’s trying to get the quarterback and I’m trying to put him five yards behind the line of scrimmage. He understands that and I understand that.
“Sometimes we get frustrated. It’s like siblings. We bicker or we push each other around. Most of the time mom or dad have to say, ‘Hey, that’s your brother. Be nice. Come back to the huddle.’ Things work themselves out that way. But moving forward, I’d like to keep it there and not have it escalate into something else.”
Aside from the incident last Wednesday night, Long has had an excellent training camp. It’s the first time he’s been healthy throughout the offseason and summer for several years.
“The last time I was in pads every day and practicing every day was my rookie year,” said Long, who was selected by the Bears in the first round of the 2013 draft. “I haven’t done that in a long time, and it feels pretty darn good. I put this camp up with any of them that I’ve been a part of.
“I think a lot of the credit should go to the other guys in the offensive line room, but also the training staff with Andre [Tucker] and all those guys and girls and obviously coach Nagy. He’s done a great job putting this program together and making sure that things are done the right way.”