Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long is putting his money where his mouth is by donating his pay for the first six games of the NFL season to fund scholarships in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Long, who is from Los Angeles but played high school football for St. Anne’s-Belfield School in Charlottesville, has been one of the most vocal sports stars in the wake of the violent protests at a rally for white supremacists in the city last August.
The scholarships will provide two students with a seven-year all-expenses-paid school program at St. Anne’s-Belfield School, according to Sports Illustrated. In addition, two members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Virginia will be granted the opportunity to complete their education at one of Virginia’s schools.
Acting in response to the outbreak of violence that left one woman dead, Long and his wife, Megan, released a statement: “In August, we watched people fill our hometown streets with hatred and bigotry. Megan and I decided to try to combat those actions with our own positive investment in our community.”
He went on to tweet that it was “the least I can do.”
— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) September 20, 2017
The NFL veteran, who was drafted by the St. Louise Rams in 2008 and won a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots last season, also appeared on ESPN’s “The Ryen Russillo Show” on Tuesday.
“With everything that happened over the summer that really shed a negative light on a really good community that we have in Charlottesville, I thought it would be good to kind of put my money where my mouth was and take it out of the check that I get for doing something that I love,” he told Russillo.
“Certainly I’ve been lucky, I’ve made a lot of money in my career, it’s not like I’m playing for, you know, $30 million this year or something. I’m an older guy, I’m not taking a ton of money relative to NFL standards, but any little bit helps in your community and for me we were just trying to turn a negative into a positive.”
During the Eagles vs. Buffalo Bills pre-season game on Aug. 17, Long became one of the first white players to join in the national anthem protest by putting his hand on teammate Malcolm Jenkins back as Jenkins raised a fist.
After the game, he told reporters: “I think it’s a good time for people that look like me to be there for people that are fighting for equality.”
Long is the son of NFL Hall of Famer Howie Long and the brother of Chicago Bears guard Kyle Long.