The first thing you notice about Howie Long is that he’s big. At 6’5″, he weighs 266—unless it’s football season and he’s appearing weekly on FOX NFL Sunday, when he slims down to 259. His shoulders are so broad, “you could land airplanes on them,” says wife Diane, an attorney. In fact, the Emmy-winning sports analyst and former L.A. Raiders defensive end owes his third career—movie star—to his monumental physique. FOX owner Rupert Murdoch’s conclusion that he looks like an action hero led to Long’s debut as John Travolta’s henchman in Broken Arrow (1996) and his star turn in 1998’s Firestorm.
But being big has its drawbacks. Long says he adopted his distinctive flat top because his size 7 5/8 head is too large “to keep a big glob of hair on.” The buzz cut—for which he pays $9 at a barbershop near the Georgian-style mansion in Albemarle County, Va., that he and Diane, both 39, share with sons Chris, 14, Kyle, 10, and Howie, 9—fits in with a style strategy he calls “easy to attain: I can be showered, shaved and out the door in 13, 14 minutes.” To stay trim, he eats egg whites, chicken and white rice (“and then you splurge, because if you don’t you go out of your mind”) and follows a program of cardiovascular and resistance exercise. But at times, he says, his oft-injured body (as a player, he endured nine back and shoulder surgeries) “just doesn’t want to work out. I’m like an old Coupe de Ville: If you leave it in the garage too long, it has trouble starting up.”
Luckily, the guy with the big head and big feet (size 13) comes with a heart to match. Sunday cohost Terry Bradshaw calls Long “the most unassuming gorgeous guy there is.” Says Diane: “You look at him and think: strong, powerful, maybe aggressive—but that’s not his personality. You can tell from his face that he’s very kind and warm. People walk up to Howie like they’ve known him for 20 years.” Now that’s a big compliment.