NEWARK, N.J. - Howie Long will be a major part of Fox29's pregame show before the Super Bowl on Sunday. He's a Super Bowl winner himself and an NFL Hall of Famer. Long said Tuesday at Super Bowl media day that he would not be in this position if not for his time at Villanova, where he played football and graduated with a communications degree in 1981.
"They were the best of times," Long said. "I met my wife there. Grew a lot there socially, academically, as a person. I think it was a good choice for me. It was the perfect fit for me."
Long, a defensive lineman known for his blue-collar ethos, remembered the bus rides to every road game and staying three to a hotel room. A Massachusetts native, Long said he did not have any money at the time and stayed in Villanova's dorms during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the summer.
"It was my home once I got there, because there wasn't another place to go," Long said. "Made some great friends that have been lifelong friends. If not for my experience there, I don't know if I'm where I am today."
In addition to becoming one of the NFL's finest players ever with the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders and carving out a broadcasting career, Long has two sons in the NFL. One of them, Bears Pro Bowl rookie guard Kyle Long, played for Chip Kelly at Oregon.
Kyle Long praised Kelly before the Eagles hosted the Bears this season. He went to Oregon after dealing with substance-abuse issues, and Kelly embraced him. What stuck out to Kyle and Howie Long was that Kelly never mentioned Kyle's father or brother Chris, a Rams defensive end, during his recruitment.
"Chip had an impact on him not just as a football player but as a young man," Howie Long said. "The accountability. I'm a big fan of Chip Kelly's. Chip Kelly's on our small list of people that we consider family."
Ex-Owl enjoys ride
Terrance Knighton is the Temple product on the Broncos who receives the most attention, but there's another former Owl in Knighton's position meetings who is enjoying the Super Bowl experience this week. Defensive end John Youboty went undrafted out of Temple last year, but he has been with the Broncos ever since.
He was signed to Denver's practice squad after failing to make the 53-man roster and is with the team this week.
Youboty is a West Philadelphia native who moved to Houston in the third grade. He transferred to Temple from Marshall and started 18 of 24 games. He realized the NFL was a possibility during his junior season in 2011. The Owls had three players drafted the following year.
Temple is "known for having great defensive linemen," Youboty said, "so being a part of that tradition was great for me."
Even though Youboty is not in uniform on Sundays, he said he feels a part of the AFC champions. Practice squad players play a role throughout the week. And if the Broncos win, Youboty will get a ring.
"It's just a learning experience," Youboty said. "My first year, getting to see all this, will only help me in the future."
Denver cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a former Eagle, said his comments about possibly retiring if the Broncos win the Super Bowl were "misunderstood."
"What I was saying is that I've got a one-year contract," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "There are many times that I've seen a guy get a one-year deal and it doesn't pan out and that's it. So you have to think about life after football. That motivates you to go out and play hard. I'm not thinking about retiring in terms of giving up."
He said he thinks about players such as 2005 first-round pick Fabian Washington. Washington quickly faded out of the NFL after a one-year deal, and Rodgers-Cromartie said he went into this season understanding that could be him.
"I am prepared for whatever," he said. "That's what I mean about this being the last go-round."
Jay Paterno visits
When Seahawks fullback and former Penn State quarterback Michael Robinson scanned all the faces at media day Tuesday, one stuck out: That of Jay Paterno, the former Penn State assistant and Joe Paterno's son.
"It's always nice to see Jay and see the Paternos," Robinson said. "I have a lot of respect for that family. They've always stayed true to me and it's good to see them."
Robinson was asked to compare the Super Bowl to the 2006 Orange Bowl, when he led the Nittany Lions to a triple-overtime win over Florida State.
"One of the best games I've ever been a part of," Robinson said. "Just the players that were out there, the way the guys were competing, it was an awesome experience."