Former Virginia Football star Chris Long earned an amazing honor Saturday evening at the National Football League Honors ceremony as the Philadelphia Eagle was named the 2018 Walter Payton Man of the Year.
Long, who graduated from the University of Virginia in 2008, has long served the community in a myriad of ways. His Waterboys initiative works to bring clean water to communities in East Africa, while The Chris Long Foundation strives to improve educational equality, supports military veterans, and has programs to assist the homeless population. Last season, Long donated the game checks for the entire season to “educational initiatives” in Charlottesville, St. Louis, Boston, and Philadelphia. His donations, plus the ensuing Pledge 10 for Tomorrow funds-matching drive, raised $1.75 million.
Well deserved: Chris Long wins Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. He donated his entire year's salary, roughly $1 million, to support educational initiatives in the cities he has played, St. Louis, Boston and Philly, AND then raised an additional $750K through outreach.— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) February 3, 2019
“I am honored to be named the 2018 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year and to join the long line of men who have received this prestigious honor. While I am officially accepting this award, we would not be able to accomplish our goals without the support and participation of countless other individuals. I am humbled by the support we have received from my peers who have donated to our various matching-campaigns, the commitment and perseverance displayed by the veterans who have climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with me each year, and the generosity of our fans who have made vital contributions to our foundation over the years. I am incredibly thankful that football has provided me with a platform to give back and I am proud that so many of my colleagues have decided to use this stage to create positive and impactful change in our local communities and around the world.”
As a result of the recognition, the NFL Foundation, Nationwide, and United Way Worldwide will donate $250,000 to The Chris Long Foundation and another $250,000 to United Way on his behalf.
This is the first time in the last three seasons that Long isn’t playing in the Super Bowl as he was part of the winning New England (2017) and Philadelphia (2018) teams.
Before the event, SB Nation’s Jeanna Thomas caught up with Chris on the red carpet:
Chris Long shared what he’s looking forward to most this evening pic.twitter.com/JjLTKDGBHD— Jeañña (@jeannathomas) February 2, 2019