Our ongoing series “A More Perfect Union” aims to show that what unites us as Americans is far greater than what divides us. In this installment, we introduce you to an unassuming NFL star who has spent much of his life putting his time, heart, and money into helping kids in under-served communities here and abroad.
Chris Long is in his 10th season in the NFL and is currently a playmaker on the high-flying Philadelphia Eagles. But with a simple, empathetic gesture of putting his hand on the shoulder of teammate Malcolm Jenkins during the national anthem earlier this season, he took a step into a spotlight that Chris had always avoided.
“For me, my little gesture, it had everything to do with I thought what was right,” Long told special correspondent James Brown. As Long stood with his hand over his heart, he also showed solidarity with his teammate who raised a fist in the air.
“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. “And I think, you know, it’s not about the knee. It’s what you do in your community and walking the walk.”
More from the series:
Chris does “walk the walk.” After his “little” gesture, he made a big one by donating the last 10 game salary checks of his $1 million salary to education charities in St. Louis, Boston and Philadelphia, the three NFL cities where he played in his decade-long career.
“Where did you get the itch to be involved in charitable endeavors?” Brown asked.
“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, who grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia. “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.”
Chris is the oldest of three sons of hall-of-famer Howie Long and his wife Diane.
“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,” said James Pierce, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Central Virginia.
Pierce says Chris and his wife Megan have…