Aside from the continuing belief that the Bengals and their fans aren’t allowed to have nice things, the fact that he was injured by Von Oelhoffen is borderline comical.
After all, the defensive tackle played for Cincinnati his first six years in the league and was knee-deep (see what I did there?) in The Lost Decade that was the Bengals in the 1990s.
Aside from that aspect, a big rivalry had been brewing between the Steelers and the Bengals that year. Pittsburgh, and to a somewhat lesser extent, the Baltimore Ravens, were used to being the big bullies on the AFC North’s block. The other clubs didn’t like this brash, explosive and up-and-coming Bengals team pushing back.
He made two Pro Bowls as the Bengals’ quarterback (2005, 2006) and led them to another playoff berth in 2009 before leaving the club in the 2011 offseason. However, Palmer suffered other significant injuries to his elbow, nose and ankle before his departure.
But if the argument is who would I rather have on my defense in the year 2018? Come on, that choice is easy. Mack all day.
With Mack, you’re talking about a guy with a 40-inch vertical, 128-inch broad jump, 4.18-second 20-yard shuttle, and 4.65-second 40-yard dash. The NFL Combine didn’t even exist when Long was a draft prospect in 1981, so we can’t compare numbers — but it’s safe to assume Long’s numbers pale in comparison.
It’s not that Long was an unathletic player, by any means. He was a standout in shot put and discus, and he was even a collegiate boxing champion. But in the last 30 years football players keep getting bigger, faster, and stronger, and Mack is as big, fast, and strong as it gets.
If Mack’s career continues on its current trajectory, he may one day have an argument that he is even better in his era than Long was in the 1980s. But if I need one of them to turn the corner on a modern day offensive tackle, Mack is the choice.