Bears' Long maintains love for Sox

CHICAGO -- Call it destiny that Kyle Long ended up as a Chicago Bears first-round draft pick Thursday.

Another Chicago team once tried to get him to the shores of Lake Michigan when the White Sox made the left-handed pitcher their 23rd-round pick in the 2008 first-year player draft.

Instead of signing with the White Sox, Long enrolled at Florida State to play baseball.

“First and foremost I turned that down because I wanted to get my education,” Long said Friday at his introductory Bears press conference. “Anybody coming out of high school that has an opportunity to get drafted would obviously like to see where they would get drafted and it was a pretty cool experience for my family and I getting to meet some big-name people and get to work out at some major league parks was a pretty cool deal. But I wanted to go to college and I wanted to get the college experience and get an education.”

Neither baseball nor Florida State worked out for Long. He struggled academically, was arrested for driving under the influence and told yahoo.com he was in treatment before returning home to California.

But even before his issues came to a head, Long had already decided that he wanted to leave baseball for football.

“When I was with Florida State I could hear the football helmets smacking and the whistles blowing and the coaches screaming and there wasn’t a lot of that on the baseball field,” he said. “I knew I wasn’t in the right place.”

Perhaps that right place also is Chicago. Two teams tried to get him here, after all.

As for baseball, he has no regrets over changing sports. Becoming a first-round pick on football is certainly better that a 23rd-round selection in baseball.

“It hasn’t even really crossed my mind,” Long said on ESPN 1000’s “Waddle and Silvy Show.” “I have been on this path for quite a long time now. I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. I know I’m where I’m supposed to be and I’m happy to be here.”

As for his baseball allegiance once he settles into Chicago, that one was simple.

“I’m going to go ahead and say the White Sox because the Cubs had 22 rounds to pull the trigger and they didn’t,” Long said.