Eagles DE Chris Long retires as two-time Super Bowl winner, even more impressive legacy off the field

Not many people can win a pair of Super Bowls -- with multiple teams no less -- and walk away with a more impressive off-field legacy, but Eagles defensive end Chris Long did just that on Saturday night when he stepped away from the NFL for good.

Long had hinted he would be retiring this offseason barring a change in how the Eagles wanted to use him this year and made it official in a very Virginia way, posting a pic of him holding a red Solo cup with the mountains in the background.

Long's career is pretty fascinating to look at as a whole. The son of Hall of Fame defensive lineman Howie Long, Long recorded 20 sacks in three seasons for the Cavaliers -- including 14 his final year leading to an ACC Defensive Player of the Year award -- before leaving for the NFL. He was drafted by the Rams with the second overall pick, taken behind Jake Long (not related thanks for asking) and ahead of Matt Ryan, who the Falcons snared at No. 3. 

The Rams were awful for the entire extent of Long's run in St. Louis. There's a host of talented guys (Steven Jackson, etc.) who toiled in mediocrity, but Long might be the most notable given his pedigree and production. He recorded 54.5 sacks for the Rams in his eight seasons, including a pair of double-digit sack seasons, but never made the Pro Bowl. He finally left the franchise in 2016 as a 31-year-old who signed on to play for the Patriots on a single-year deal as a replacement for the recently traded Chandler Jones.

Like many Patriots players, Long took a paycut for the gig. And, like many Patriots players, Long found team success in New England, helping the Patriots win a Super Bowl, a remarkable comeback victory against the Atlanta Falcons. 

Following the win over Atlanta, Long's social activism first became noticed by the at-large public when he decided to skip the Patriots visit to the White House. In reality, Long had already been doing positive global outreach through his Waterboys foundation, building wells around the world for countries without access to viable sources of drinking water.

Long would ultimately decide not to re-sign with the Patriots, instead joining the Philadelphia Eagles ahead of the 2017 season. Long played just 60 percent of the Patriots snaps and was looking for a boosted role. With Philly, Long found more team success, helping Philly's dominant defense secure a No. 1 seed in the NFC. When Carson Wentz went down with an ACL injury, everyone gave up on the Eagles. It was Long and offensive lineman Lane Johnson who became the face of the franchise, donning dog masks and firing back at the critics as the team marched through the playoffs and brought the city its first ever Super Bowl victory. 

The defensive end would spend one more season with the Eagles in 2018, recording 6.5 sacks and bringing his career total to 70. 

Throughout his two years with Philly, Long became famous for his philanthropy and social work. Long donated his first six game checks of the 2017 season to fund scholarships in Charlottesville, Va. He would later donate the final 10 checks he earned to help fund the Pledge 10 for Tomorrow program to increase educational equality and opportunity.

With a heavy focus on what players did during the national anthem as a method of protesting racial inequality, Long became one of the few white NFL players to step forward and openly embrace the protest, putting his arm around teammate Malcolm Jenkins as Jenkins raised his fist during the anthem.

Long would later be awarded the prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for his work.

"When you look at everything Chris Long accomplished as a player and person, it's easy to see how fortunate we've been to have him on our team," the Eagles said in a statement released by the team. "Chris was everything that we thought he was and even more — not only as a great player for our football team, but also in the community. There aren't many players who can say they won back-to-back Super Bowls and the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

"There's no question that his work ethic combined with his unique talent made him into one of the greatest of this era's professional athletes. We are very thankful Chris chose to play for the Philadelphia Eagles, and congratulate him on a fantastic career. He will always be part of the Eagles family."

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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