Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long watched Charlottesville, Virginia -- his home town -- get plunged into turmoil in August when white supremacists took to the streets in protest and violence erupted. A car attack left one woman dead and 19 injured. Now, Long and his wife are trying to do something about it. Long has pledged his first six 2017 game checks to provide two students with a seven-year paid education program in Charlottesville. The scholarships will be for Long's alma mater, St. Anne's Belfield School.
Long played his entire career with Rams until 2016, when he joined the Patriots and won a Super Bowl ring. He now plays for Philadelphia, where he's already notched a sack for his new team. He has been outspoken about the unrest in Charlottesville, saying in August to CSNPhilly.com: "Some people are tired of hearing me tweet because they want me to stick to football but I like to use social media like I was a regular guy because I think I am. I don't tell people to stick to their job when they want to talk politics. And this isn't political. That's the thing. Everybody is trying to turn this political. This isn't a political issue. This is right or wrong."
Long is one of a few white players that havethat Colin Kaepernick started last season. Just a week after Michael Bennett said that the support of a white player would help the protest's cause, Long put his arm around teammate Malcolm Jenkins while Jenkins raised a fist in a show of solidarity.
"It's just telling Malcolm, 'I am here for you," Long told ESPN after the show of support. "And I think it's a good time for people who look like me to be here for people fighting for equality."
Long had more to say on the topic, clarifying why he thinks support is important.
"I've heard a lot of people say you need white athletes to get involved in the anthem protests," he said. "I've said before I'll never kneel for an anthem, because the flag means something different for everybody in this country, but I support my peers. And if you don't see why you need allies for people that are fighting for equality right now, I don't think you'll ever see it. So my thing is, Malcolm is a leader, and I'm here to show support as a white athlete."
Now Long is putting his money where his mouth is. In the statement accompanying the announcement, Long doubled down on his feelings towards the protesters. "In August, we watched people fill our hometown streets with hatred and bigotry," he said. "Megan and I decided to try to combat those actions with our own positive investment in the community."