The Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive end Chris Long has been making headlines all year. But it’s not because of his gameplay.
Back in August, Long put his arm around teammate Malcolm Jenkins as the latter protested during the national anthem (Jenkins had been doing it since 2016). It happened just days after the Charlottesville protests, and it was a meaningful gesture for Long, as he had played high school and college football in the Virginia city.
Then, last month, Long shocked fans by announcing that he would be donating his first six game-day paychecks to fund scholarships in the Charlottesville area.
He recently decided to give the rest of the season’s earnings away, too. That day, SB Nation‘s Charlotte Wilder was with Long, and she wrote a sprawling feature about it. RealClearLife has teased out some of the most interesting facts from it below.
-Long and Jenkins were both present at the NFL owners meetings, during which it was decided that players wouldn’t be forced to stand during the national anthem.
-The DE founded WaterBoys, which funds well-digging in East Africa; leads trips up Mt. Kilimanjaro with military veterans; and has his own charitable foundation.
-In speaking at a local Philadelphia high school, Long said: “Life is short. Live it with joy. I really think that the biggest thing I could leave you with today is to take pleasure in the work that you do, whether in classroom or community, and enjoy it. Be that contagious light that spreads energy to other people. Great people make other people feel they can be great, too. We talk about this in the locker room as football players and leaders, how you want everyone around you to feel like they can be great for having played with you, sat in a classroom with you, been a friend of yours. Through your loyalty, your excitement, and for who you are. Be contagious in your energy.”
-Of his time on the field: “My career’s been all over the map, and I think players struggle with what’s their legacy. …I haven’t been a superstar, but you can still think about your average-ass legacy. What’s kept me in the game is trying to leave on my terms. This has probably happened to so many players, and I probably won’t be able to accomplish it. But I want to leave playing at a high level. And using the game. I don’t want to let the game use me.”
-Martellus Bennett, a close friend and former teammate of Long’s in New England, says: “You go through the league, and not many white players are actually saying things like Chris does. When he does, it goes bigger than just a black player saying it. He shows us as black players in the NFL that he gets it. He’s not turning a blind eye. When white players stay quiet, I’m like, I know you see the struggle, I know you see what’s going on. You play with me. We’re examples of how people can get along and come from different backgrounds to work toward the same common goal. But when I speak on things that matter like this, and you turn your head, it’s like you think you can wash it away.”
-Of his giving ways, Long says: “Charity is one of the coolest parts of being a football player. I’m really not bullsh—ing you, I really do care about what we do. I would totally resent the idea that I just do this sh-t for no reason.”