The idea came to fruition Friday night over some food and drinks down at Faegan's. Former All-American Jason Gebhardt was feeling former Syracuse punter Rob Long out, picking his brains so-to-speak.
Gebhardt and Long met a few weeks prior to the Legend's game at Hops for Hope, an American Cancer Society fundraiser that was held at the Budweiser Brewery in Baldwinsville, N.Y. Gebhardt, an active member on its board, met Long at the event and the two hit it off.
"He is a super nice guy," Long said. "And the whole charity event was great."
Gebhardt asked Long if he had anything going on Saturday afternoon. His response ultimately did him in.
"I told him I really didn't have any plans," Long said.
The standout punter recalls Gebhardt posing the question about participating in Saturday's Legend's game. The contest was to be played before Syracuse's game against the alumni all-stars. Some of the best to ever wear Orange were going to break out the sticks and helmets to play and Long was going to be among them.
"I had no idea what I was doing," Long said. "I guess there was only three long poles that showed up and they said, ‘Well, you're playing.' I played defense, long-stick middy and then I was kind of running up and down the field. I took a couple shots, too. My only previous experience with a lacrosse stick was a short stick. It was a good time."
"For the most part," Long said, "it wasn't too bad. Everyone was saying I did really well. The only thing that was really difficult for me was picking up ground balls with the stick. It was kind of awkward."
Long would start for the "white" team and for the most part, hold his own.
Long credits Gebhardt and former defensive stalwart Ric Beardsley for helping him out with all the little quirks of the sport on the field.
"(Ric) was basically just yelling at me the whole time on what to do. Him and Jason were great. They were instrumental with me having any clue with what I was doing yesterday. It was awesome playing with (Beardsley). He can still play at a very high level. Some of these were the best in their sport when they played, so it was pretty cool to be a part of that."
As for suiting up, his good friend and former long-stick midfielder Joel White supplied him with all the amenities.
"When I talked to Joel and told him that Jason wanted me to play in the Legend's game, he said, ‘Yeah, do it. You can use all my stuff.'"
For many that play the game, a wide array of sticks are apart of the player's arsenal. White would be no different.
Long's interest in lacrosse has always been there, however, a few sports, most notably football, took up a majority of his time.
"I've always loved (lacrosse)," Long said, "I wish I got into it when I was younger, but I was just so occupied with football and ice hockey. I played (those sports) my whole life. I just never really got into it but I've always enjoyed it, especially when I got to Syracuse."
Long has remained in touch with his lacrosse bros and includes the likes of White, John Galloway and Dan Guadagnolo. The Philadelphia native even made the short drive to Lincoln Financial Field to meet up with them for last season's lacrosse Final Four.
While the experience is something Long will hold onto for a long time, he is back to actively pursuing his dream of playing in the big league.
"Yes, I'm still actively pursuing the NFL," he said. "I signed with a new agent about two weeks ago. I think that was a big step for me going towards the NFL. I'm back up at Syracuse getting my Master's degree and doing a graduate assistantship in the meantime. It's kind of nice being able to train, use the facilities, get my Master's and continue to work towards playing in the NFL."
In terms of his graduate assistantship, Long told CuseNation.com that he is not working specifically with the football team but rather doing behind the scenes stuff with all the athletic teams.
"I'm doing a little bit of everything," he adds.
With everything going on up on the Hill, Long couldn't be more appreciative for all the help and support he has received from the University.
"It's been tremendous," he said. "Everybody up here at Syracuse has been so good to me, just so helpful in helping me reach my goals. I'm just so thankful for all of that."
Long makes Legend's game debut
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