February 9, 1996 in Seven

Ex-Raider Howie Long May Be The Next Arnold In The Making

Paul Willistein The Allentown Morning Call
 

Who is that superhero-looking hunk in “Broken Arrow”?

No, not John Travolta playing a bad guy, or Christian Slater playing a good guy.

We’re talking about the big blond guy, the one with the Capt. America good looks and the professional wrestling physique who’s bouncing across the desert in the Humvee.

Is it Arnold Schwarzenegger in a cameo? Sly Stallone slumming? Or Jean-Claude Van Damme?

It’s none of the above.

Travolta’s sidekick in the nuclear-bomb action thriller is none other than Howie Long, analyst on “Fox NFL Sunday,” an eight-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman who played with the Los Angeles (now Oakland) Raiders for 13 years and a former Villanova University defensive lineman who was the Most Valuable Player in the 1980 Blue-Gray All-Star football game.

If Long has anything to do with it, Arnold, Sly and Jean-Claude will be history in the action movie genre.

At 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, Long is taller than Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Van Damme. “I’m hoping to open a whole new venue for large, unemployed actors and actresses. I know there are some tall chicks out there that need some work who can’t get it,” Long said.

But Long’s in no hurry to replace Arnold, Sly, et al. “No need to. I’ve got time. They’re 50. I’m 36.

“It’s great to go from one profession where you’re old and washed up to … you know. I’m just waiting for them to ride off into the sunset,” said Long.

Later this month, Long will do a cameo in Tom Hanks’ feature film directorial debut, “The Thing You Do.”

“I couldn’t have plotted it better,” Long said. “I do this, a big budget movie with John Woo, John Travolta, Christian Slater, Samantha Mathis. And then I go from that to a Tom Hanks’ film. And then I’ll go on to be one of two guys or three leads in the next film, probably in April.

“I had a plan. … I think people who had made the transition from sports into film, the mistake that they made in the past, they tried to be too much. They tried be the guy in the film. I didn’t want to be a blip on the screen, but I also didn’t want to be the guy. I wanted to fall somewhere in the middle, have some significant parts in a bigger budget that I knew would be released in a wide scope.

“I think certain people who’ve tried to make the transition from what I did to what I do now, to me, just weren’t likable.”

Long said that doing the stunts in “Broken Arrow” was even more physical than playing bone-crunching professional football: “Running across a train going 35 mph, jumping from box car to box car.”

Long didn’t do his own big stunts. “I’ve been operated on a whole bunch. I’ve broken everything there is to break. But I think my athleticism is something that will serve me well, if it works out.”

Long seems like such a natural in “Broken Arrow.” Why haven’t we seen him in movies until now? “Well, I wasn’t ready for it. I played 13 years in the NFL and ICM (International Creative Management) had been pressing for years.

“Everyone seemed to have (the idea that) I was preordained to be an action-movie guy. And I never really took it seriously. As I don’t take much else seriously. My philosophy is that when it’s in the bank, fine.

“I played 13 years. I did quite well in professional football. Therefore, I do not need. And not needing is a very powerful vehicle in (Hollywood). If you say, ‘No, I don’t want to do that,’ they’re shocked.”


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email