The University of Virginia graduated the class of 2018 today, seeing thousands of students walk the Lawn with balloons, caps and gowns, and gigantic smiles. Last night, as all the festivities kicked off, the graduating fourth years had an opportunity to hear from Chris Long, one of UVA’s most impressive recent graduates, at the Valedictory Exercises.
Long, who has helped the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles to Super Bowl titles in back-to-back years, was a standout defender for the Virginia football team. He picked up countless accolades on the field before being drafted second overall in the 2008 draft by the St. Louis Rams. Long played for the Rams until the 2016 season, when he was picked up by the Patriots.
He opened the speech with some self-deprecating humor before thanking his parents, wife, and some friends for being in attendance. His two year old son, Waylon?
“Thank you to my two year old son, Waylon, who is sitting at home streaming this live on all six of his Apple devices,” Long said to the crowd. “You think millennials are bad...we limit his screen time.”
According to Long, he wasn’t always so good at sports, telling the crowd about his struggles in football, basketball, and baseball as a kid. Long, who claims to be the only person in Charlottesville Little League Baseball history to have a home run taken away by an umpire for not touching home plate, had some early advice for the soon-to-be graduates and their families.
“But if you take one thing away from this speech,” Long said, “...it’s that if you go out into the world and start your careers as little league umpires, and many of you will, wield that power responsibly.”
Throughout the entirety of his speech, Long mixed humor, sincerity, and advice. Despite coming off as nervous at times, his message was heartfelt and well-received by the crowd that hung on every word.
Whatever the story was for each graduate, Long was enthusiastic about their future and that graduation isn’t the end goal. “This isn’t your pinnacle,” Long stated. “This isn’t your destination.”
He did impart some fabulous advice on the crowd, saying, “If you get a chance, be Malcolm Brogdon.”
Long hit hard on the concept of using and welcoming fear as it will help drive you to make the tough decisions in life.
You can watch the full Valedictory Exercises below. His portion begins around the 45:35 mark of the video. Do it...it’s worth it.