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July 22, 2013

NFL injury risk has Hall-of-Fame dad concerned for rookie son

(Continued)

"It was just innate," Howie says. "Whether I like it or not, it's part of their DNA."

The night before a game, Howie will call Kyle and Chris and give them the same instructions he has been doling out since they were boys. "See what you hit," he'll say. "Don't lower your head. Keep your head on a swivel."

On Nov. 24, the Long brothers likely will see each other across the line of scrimmage. The Bears are scheduled to meet the Rams, and given the positions Kyle and Chris play, it's likely the brothers will collide head-on. It's not a prospect their parents are looking forward to.

Diane will have her binoculars and train them on the children she wouldn't let cross the street without clutching their hands. She will watch the bodies slamming, the arms and legs flying. And she'll focus on that pile, thinking, Get up.

"You tell yourself to breathe," she says. "You tell yourself you can't control what's happening. Yet you don't take your eyes off of it."

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