Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long earned himself a trip to Washington D.C. recently. Needless to say, the invitation didn’t come from the White House. Instead, the invitation came from the Jefferson Awards Foundation, a prestigious organization dedicated to celebrating public service and volunteerism. The foundation invited Long to their ceremony to honor him as the recipient of their Outstanding Public Service in Professional Sports award.
An outspoken advocate on social justice issues with an extensive philanthropic track record, Long is committed to using his platform to bring positive change to marginalized populations around the world. In 2015, Long started the Chris Long Foundation as a way to sustainably support his charitable efforts, such as his “Waterboys” clean water initiative in Tanzania. Since launching the initiative, the foundation has helped build 31 water wells and has raised $1.7 million, resulting in clean water for 111,000 Tanzanians.
Long also donated his entire $1 million salary this past season to charitable causes as a show of gratitude for his 10th season in the NFL. He directed a portion of the funds to a scholarship program at his former high school in Charlottesville, Va. He then donated his last ten game checks, plus another $1.3 million he raised from fans and corporations through a matching contribution campaign, to education initiatives in Philadelphia, Boston and St. Louis.
This year, Long also received the 2018 Byron “Whizzer” White Community MVP award from the NFL Players Association. As part of the award, the association donated $100,000 to the Chris Long Foundation in support of his clean water and youth initiatives as well as the foundation’s efforts around care for veterans, active military and the homeless.
In addition to monetary contributions, Long also volunteers his time in creative and impactful ways. While playing for the St. Louis Rams, he and teammate William Hayes spent 24 hours living on the street and documenting their experience in an effort to bring a deeper awareness to the issues faced by homeless individuals and families.
Long is also a social activist, recently joining teammates Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod to discuss bail reform at a public defenders meeting in Philadelphia. The group talked about promising bail reform models from cities nationwide and ways that professional athletes can be allies in advancing effective policy reform.
Now a two-time Super Bowl champ, Long is making the most of his broadening influence to generate positive social impact locally, nationally and around the globe.