SPOKANE, Wash. -- You won't find too many people around Spokane who a strong bond with the city of Philadelphia, but Travis Long does.
He went from Gonzaga Prep to Washington State University and on to the Philadelphia Eagles. While there he saw the ingredients come together for a Super Bowl bound squad. Unfortunately, injuries cut his NFL career short, leaving him to enjoy Philly's playoff run from a distance.
“The people out there really care about their football. It means a lot to them so I'm sure Philly is going crazy for this,” he said. “You're in the spotlight with the media and all the fans. The good thing about me is no one knew who I was so I didn't have to deal with that really.”
Philadelphia was the last stop of the Gonzaga Prep grad's football career a stint that ended before it ever had a chance to really get going.
“It was unfortunate the way injuries happened but it was an awesome experience,” Long said.
The Eagles gave Long a shot in 2013 as an undrafted free agent, with the former Coug coming off a torn ACL that ended his career one game shy of the Apple Cup. Chip Kelly and his coaching staff were high on Long, keeping him on the Birds practice squad as he got healthy in 2013. The following year he was a young player beat writers and fans kept an eye on as the season approached, but disappointment hit before week one rolled around.
“It was the last preseason game in the fourth quarter I had pretty much already made the active roster put myself in a great position and felt a pop, next day MRI torn ACL,” Long explained.
This time in the opposite knee Long injured at WSU. Once again Chip Kelly's staff kept the linebacker around as he missed another season getting healthy. For the second time Long battled back, this time to be ready for the 2015 season.
“The third time was the second practice of fall camp that year three in four years,” Long said.
The former Coug stuck with it for another year. But during that time Philly parted with Kelly. In came Doug Pederson, and a new defensive scheme that didn't have a clear fit for Long. The new staff released him in July before training camp. Shortly thereafter, the Spokane native decided his playing days were done. Long may not have logged a regular season tackle, but he did achieve a dream.
“Just being at the top of the top a professional football player. Being a football player you want to be in the NFL, so that factor was very gratifying,” Long explained.
As well as the life experiences he and his wife Sarah shared in a city they grew to love.
“A lot of good things happened in Philly. Met a lot of friends got engaged out in Philly. Wife got her Masters in Philly. A lot of good things, met a lot of good people, have lifelong friends. Obviously the football career wasn't as positive as I would've hoped but that wasn't my whole experience in Philly,” he said.
This year they have watched the Eagles have one of the best seasons in franchise history culminating with the third Super Bowl appearance in franchise history on Sunday.
“I'm really happy for those guys, those are what I miss about football is the locker room being there with those guys that's what I miss about it. Them being there that's awesome,” Long said.
Long knows what a win would mean to the city and to the guys he shared his NFL experience with.