It turns out nice guys don't always finish last.
Super Bowl champ Chris Long, defensive end for the Eagles donated his entire 2017 base salary, worth $1 million, to charity. Last spring, Long signed a two-year contract with the Eagles that included a $500,000 signing bonus, a $1 million base salary and a $1.5 million roster bonus.
Long donated his first six paychecks of 2017 to fund scholarships in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. He says he was inspired to give after seeing the violent protests held by white nationalists in August.
"I've always believed there are inequities in our country," Long said in an interview with the Washington Post. "People's apathy or resentment for that reality has been surfacing a lot lately. And so for me, it's like, 'I'm going to be a part of the solution.'"
When his Eagles teammate Malcolm Jenkins raised his fist during the national anthem on August 17th, Long put a hand on his shoulder and later told reporters, "I think it's a good time for people that look like me to be here for people that are fighting for equality."
At the time, Former U.S. President Barack Obama called him an example of "what's best about America."
In October of 2017, Long announced his plan to give his 10 remaining game checks to organizations that promote educational equality in the three cities that he has played for over his 10-year career — Philadelphia, Boston and St. Louis.
Through the eponymous Chris Long Foundation, he created the Pledge 10 for Tomorrow campaign, which allowed people from these three cities to make matching gifts. Long gave an additional $50,000 to the city with the most individual pledges — St. Louis.
"The effect of working together for a common goal is why I played my 10th season in the NFL for free and challenged fans to get involved," says Long. "This is the power of sports in action."
The defensive end is not the only Eagles player focused on enriching students' lives.
Jenkins' charitable organization supports several education initiatives, including a S.T.E.A.M. education program in partnership with Drexel University. Wide receiver Torrey Smith funds an organization that provides school supplies to low-income elementary school students. This year, offensive tackle Lane Johnson sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise in order to raise funds for the School District of Philadelphia.
"Every game this year I took the field with a little extra motivation," says Long. "I knew that in doing what I love on Sundays, I was able to enhance my platform and do more good."
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