While much of the public discourse in America during this NFL season has been focused on whether richly paid players are standing or kneeling in protest during the national anthem, one NFL star has taken a different approach. He's donating his entire year's base pay -- $1 million -- to help others.
Check out this article in The Washington Post, which details what led the Philadelphia Eagles' Chris Long, who had been contemplating retirement, to return for the 2017 season and then to contribute every single game day check to educational quality programs designed to help underserved children.
Long’s base salary this season is $1 million. In March, he signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract with the Eagles, including a $500,000 signing bonus and $1.5 million guaranteed, the Associated Press reported. "My wife and I have been passionate about education being a gateway for upward mobility and equality," Long told the AP. "I think we can all agree that equity in education can help effect change that we all want to see in this country."
In 2015, Long, the son of former football great Howie Long, had started the Chris Long Foundation, launching several initiatives; the biggest involved raising funds to build clean-water wells in Africa. According to The Post's article, when training camp came this year thoughts of starting yet another charitable effort receded to the back of his mind.
But then, Long said, "Charlottesville happened."
Here's how The Post explains it:
The violence in Charlottesville in August during rallies by white nationalists and supremacists sparked him. Long spread his entire 2017 salary to his chosen charities. He donated his first six game checks to educational programs in and around Charlottesville. He devoted his final 10 game checks to St. Louis, Boston and Philadelphia, the three cities in which he played professionally, and asked donors to match him, an effort he branded Pledge 10.
In my mind, Chris Long is setting a tremendous example. As the article explains, he has been fortunate, growing up the son of a pro football player and wanting for nothing. He could be a spoiled brat, spending his money on a lavish lifestyle. Rather, he is using much of his fortune for good, to help others in need.
And when the on-field protests occurred and a black teammate raised his fist, what did Chris Long do? He put his arm around him in silent support.
“I’ve always believed there are inequities in our country,” Long told the newspaper's reporter. “People’s apathy or resentment for that reality has been surfacing a lot lately. And so for me, it’s like, ‘I’m going to be a part of the solution.’ ”
Certainly, Chris Long is not the only famous sports figure to use his wealth to help others. The Houston Texans’ J.J. Watt helped raise more than $37 million for relief in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, reportedly donating $1 million himself. And, as The Post's article reports, former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick — who started the anthem protest movement in 2016 — donated $1 million to social causes even as NFL owners refuse to hire him. Many others have similar initiatives, not just in football, but in baseball and other sports.
These are the players that I hope the kids of today will emulate. Chris Long saw a need and he realized he had an opportunity. He just asked of himself one simple question.
Why not help?