Long day coming, Howie

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Howie Long

Former NFL defensive end Howie Long, right, and his wife Diane talk to reporters Friday, April 26, 2013 at Halas Hall in Lake Forest after their son Kyle Long appeared at a news conference as the Bears' first-round NFL draft pick. (Chris Walker / Chicago Tribune / April 26, 2013)

Howie Long is taking Sunday off from work for the first time in 20 years.

And he will be miserable, even if he doesn’t know it yet.

Howie Long won’t be on the “NFL on Fox’’ set, likely a welcome break from Terry Bradshaw’s hog calling. Howie Long will be in St. Louis to watch his sons Kyle of the Bears and Chris of the Rams face each other in the Edward Jones Dome.

And he will feel miserable. Book it.

Sure, Howie Long the NFL Hall-of-Famer will feel the pride of having two sons face each other in an NFL game -- two sons each drafted in the first round, no less, higher than dad was selected.

And then the game will start and Howie Long the parent will be miserable. Guaranteed.

He will be watching one of his precious children lose an emotionally draining and physically excruciating game that wasn’t just televised but also gained a higher profile because, duh, two of Howie Long’s kids were facing each other.

If Howie Long’s kids get out of the game healthy, then Dad wins. That’s the only way. The rest will be twisted emotion, and that goes during the game and after.

I listened to Howie Long offer thoughtful answers on the subject in a compelling interview on the “Boers & Bernstein Show’’ on WSCR-AM 670 on Thursday, and while Dad didn’t say his game plan called for seeking out the son whose team loses, I think that’s the way to bet.

Howie Long said he ascribes to a belief that co-host Dan Bernstein repeated: You’re only as happy as your saddest child.

If you’re not a parent, you think it’s a depressing line.

If you’re a parent, you’ve been nodding all along.

As I recall when Peyton and Eli Manning first played each other, Archie and Olivia left their seats after the final gun and looked to first console the child that lost.

When Jim and John Harbaugh first faced each other as coaches in Baltimore on Thanksgiving in 2011, Mom and Dad couldn’t bear to sit in the stands. Instead, Jack and Jackie chose to hole up in an office in the stadium to watch the game on TV.

Think about that: Papa Harbaugh is a former football coach --- John Elway played for him at Stanford -- so you would think having two sons stand on NFL sidelines would bring the greatest satisfaction.

And Dad couldn’t sit in the stands.

Something else that wise people say to those of you who aren’t parents or have very young children: little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems.

And National Football League kids, national TV problems.

Tough racket, parenting. By the time you figure out what a trap it is, you realize you forgot to save the receipt so you can’t even take the kid back.

That’s why I believe the best adage is this: Friends don’t let friends have children.

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