Iowa Football

Chuck Long is a man of many hats

Ogden column: He's more than legendary Iowa QB these days

Chuck Long waves to the fans during the Kinnick Stadium Wall of Honor ceremony before a game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Northern Illinois Huskies in 2013 at Kinnick Stadium. (The Gazette)
Chuck Long waves to the fans during the Kinnick Stadium Wall of Honor ceremony before a game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Northern Illinois Huskies in 2013 at Kinnick Stadium. (The Gazette)

Chuck Long is a lot of things to a lot of people.

He’s the CEO and executive director Iowa Sports Foundation, which puts on the winter and summer Iowa Games among many other ventures. He’s a studio analyst for the Big Ten Network during the football season who also does color commentary for many conference games.

He’s a husband and father of five adult children, the last of which will graduate from Arkansas in the spring.

But for a generation of Iowa football fans — maybe most Iowans and all college football fans — he’s the quarterback standard, the one all Hawkeyes since the mid-1980s are judged.

He’s OK with that.

“It’s a blessing,” he said when asked, after 30-plus years, if that role is a blessing or a curse.

Long laughed and said there’s a bunch of “kids” who don’t know who he is.

They may not remember him as the record-setting quarterback who completed 65 percent of his passes for 10,461 yards and 74 touchdowns in a career that ended in 1985. Those all remain school records, by the way.

Many know him now as a face on BTN or local TV — “it keeps my toe in football,” he said — or a guy who promotes physical fitness around the state.

He’s cool with that, too. He actually loves that.

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“I like the hats I wear,” he said. “I like trying to get Iowans a little healthier each day.

“It gets me around the state.”

Right now, Long is on the road — he was traveling in his car during our interview Sunday — to promote the Winter Iowa Games, which kick off later this month in Dubuque and will, once again, have events in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City in February.

He soon will turn his attention to the Summer Iowa Games, as well as the many other ventures he oversees at ISF — things like Live Healthy Iowa, Iowa Senior Games and Net Fest, to name just a few.

His latest plug was for the Corridor Corporate Games, which will be heading to our area this summer. It’s never too early to get the ball rolling on these things.

“It’s grown by leaps and bounds,” Long said with his usual positive demeanor.

The initial corporate games were held in Des Moines last year and, this year, that event will grow to 80 teams. He’s hoping for 20 to 25 for the inaugural games for Cedar Rapids-Iowa City businesses. The event include several sporting events, but also promotes volunteerism. There are divisions for small, medium and large businesses.

And part of the proceeds will be donated to the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

Long always is on the go, always promoting, always willing to shake a hand or tell a story.

The latter led to a book — “Destined for Greatness” — which was published a little more than a year ago and is reaching its initial goal of 10,000 sold. Why a book now? Long will turn 56 in February.

Long was sharing football stories with Aaron Putze one day and Putze said Long should write a book. Long thought “maybe when I’m 70.” Putze, who authored the book, told him “no one will remember you then.”

Long likely will be remembered for all the aforementioned, but he’s more than an ex-football player, ex-coach and executive.

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“I consider myself an Iowan now,” he said even though he came to Iowa from Wheaton, Ill. “I feel I fit in real well here.”

It’s hard to argue with that.

l Comments: (319) 368-8696; jr.ogden@thegazette.com

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