Chris Long has been named as the Eagles’’ nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award on Thursday.
The award recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field as well as excellence on the field. Every team’s nominee was announced on Thursday. Fans can vote for the winner on Twitter by using #WPMOYChallenge and the players’ last name between Thursday and Jan. 13. The player whose hashtag is used most will receive a $25,000 contribution to their charity of choice, courtesy of Nationwide.
In 2018, Long continued more than a decade of community service by creating the First Quarter for Literacy program, which provides under-served Philadelphia families, and families nationwide, with free books, literacy resources and mentoring services. He donated 100 percent of his first four game checks to the program, as well as to the development of six “Chris Long Book Nooks” that serve as neighborhood reading areas for Philadelphia families.
Long also pledged to match donations up to $25,000 from any player on an opposing team in the 2018 season. Between the matching donations and voluntary support from the community, more than $140,000 has been raised and 35,000 books have been donated to the program.
“It’s an honor to be named the Eagles 2018 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee and to be in the company of 31 of my peers that have proven their commitment and dedication to bettering their communities,” said Long in a press release issued by the team. “I’m humbled by this recognition and energized to continue to improve the lives of those most at risk at home and around the world.”
Just three weeks after winning the Super Bowl, Long conquered Mt. Kilimanjaro for the third time alongside 11 current and former NFL players and U.S. military veterans. His Conquering Kili initiative began in 2016 when he teamed up with former Seattle Seahawk and active-duty Green Beret Nate Boyer to create a new branch of Long’s Waterboys initiative. Conquering Kili brings together a class of combat veterans and gives them the opportunity to serve others by climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise money to build clean water wells for East Africa. Each new Conquering Kili class accepts the challenge to embark on a mission that represents the miles that many African women journey on a daily basis to fetch water for their families.
Long has also continued his work as a founding member of the Players’ Coalition Task Force. Working specifically on educational equality, police and community relations and criminal justice reform, he has taken on an active role in the Players’ Coalition’s efforts to reform the bail system in Philadelphia and beyond. These efforts, in partnership with the Justice Collaborative, are designed to amend Philadelphia’s bail system while providing wraparound services to those in the system when they are released.
“Chris has done a remarkable job of leveraging his platform as a professional athlete to create life-changing opportunities for so many people,” said Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie in a press release.
“Through his foundation and other charitable initiatives led by Chris, many systemic issues facing our society have been addressed with a thoughtful, hands-on approach. In his efforts to build stronger communities, engage in international programs and advocate for educational equality, Chris has consistently demonstrated tremendous character and leadership. His humanitarian efforts are very deserving of this nomination and I am proud to call him a Philadelphia Eagle.”
To learn more about the Chris Long Foundation, please visitchrislongfoundation.org.