Chris Long Embodies What Football and America Should Really Be About

As the Philadelphia Eagles are preparing to take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII, they have also been flooded with questions during their time with the media. Of course, this is a huge part of Super Bowl week for the players. They are all required to spend so much time with the media, and some players take full advantage of that time to use it as a platform for what they believe in. For veteran pass rusher Chris Long, he was asked about his thoughts on some of the movements in America right now such as Colin Kaepernick’s desire for equality and his current unemployment.

Long was supportive of Kaepernick, saying he should absolutely have a job in the NFL right now. He also supports Kaepernick in his stance and has repeatedly said that everyone has a right to express their beliefs in their own particular manner. Long was adamant that Kaepernick has that right and should not receive judgement for it.

While the Kaepernick subject seems to never go away, and to a lot of players it is very important, this conversation on equality and certain movements going on should remind everyone what Long had chosen to do last year. After week six of the 2017 season, Long made a decision to donate the remainder of his 2017 salary to educational charities in St. Louis, Boston and Philadelphia – the three cities in which he has spent his entire career.

It should be noted, also, that Long spent the first six game checks to establish two full scholarships for Boys and Girls Club kids to attend his old prep school, St. Annes-Belfield. If you are doing the math, that means Long is playing his entire season for free. Imagine working for a full year and not being compensated by your employer. That, folks, is incredible.

Earlier this season, Long had unintentionally drawn plenty of media attention for putting his arm around the shoulder of teammate Malcom Jenkins during the national anthem. For him, it was a simple gesture that he wanted to back up by walking the walk.

“I’d like to stand because it’s something that would signify what I hope America can be. …I certainly empathize with the form of protest to draw attention to and inequities in this country,” Chris said, via CBS News. “And I think, you know, it’s not about the knee. It’s what you do in your community and walking the walk.” 

Long went on to say that this gesture was just a simple gesture about doing what’s right. He and his wife are both passionate about making this country a better place, and after the white nationalist march last August in his hometown of Charlottesville, VA, Long and his wife felt even more passionate.

“It wakes you up. You think you’re awake to all these things anyways, but it heightens your sense of anger and your sense of, man, we gotta fix some things about this country,” he said.

The Eagles are full of men who stand for what is good in this world. Just look at guys like Carson Wentz, Torrey Smith, Nick Foles, and Chris Maragos, who have been a force in the locker room when it comes to unifying the team under a strong faith. This team is did not have the season it had by mistake. Long even referenced he andLeGarrette Blount having to make a decision this offseason after leaving the Patriots, and he told reporters that they absolutely made the right decision.

In an interview with special correspondent James Brown last fall, Long talked about his desire to be involved in giving back. Brown asked him where he found the itch to be involved in charity.

“Well, for me JB, it was having two great parents, as you know. My mother has been really instrumental in raising a lot of money through the Boys & Girls Club in my hometown,” said Chris. “And my dad obviously, who played 13 years in the NFL, he grew up with a lot less than I had. And he gave me what he didn’t have through football. So I feel like it’s my responsibility, with this platform, to give back.” 

The Long family has created quite the legacy. Even James Pierce, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Central Virginia, knows how generous and active they have been over the years.

“The Long family has, for 20 years, been wonderful. It’s not just Howie and Diane, it’s Kyle, it’s Chris, it’s young Howie. So we’re very thankful for the whole family,”

Not just Pierce has noticed. Long’s high school football coach, John Blake, is also complimentary of his work.

“He has always been one that’s going to stand up for what he feels is right. He’s also going to stand up for the little guy,” Blake said. “I think he’s a big believer in actions speak louder than words and his actions, now, are I think taking it to that next level.”

“I just think we’ve been lucky. And I want to give people the opportunities that I had. … And now, as being parents, we talk about this all the time,” Chris said. “I couldn’t imagine our son, Waylon, not having, you know, everything he’s gonna have. You know, you meet a kid, and now that we’re parents, I feel like you’re going to see your kid in that kid.”

2017 is not the first time Long has made a large impact in the community. In fact, it’s not just his own community that he is concerned about. Long wants to make the world – not just this country – a better place. His charity, Waterboys, raised $1.6 million to build 29 solar-powered wells that provide clean water to communities in East Africa.

It is pretty evident that regardless of the outcome in the Super Bowl, Long’s legacy will be remembered as a man who stood up for what is right and put his money where his mouth is. I’m sure in his book, that’s worth far more than a trophy.

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