Chris Long will be working for nothing this year. The 6’3” 270-pound defensive end for the Philadelphia Eagles said this week that he’s donating his next 10 weeks’ salary to increasing educational opportunities for underserved kids in the three cities where he has played professional football. Earlier he had given his first six weeks’ pay for scholarships in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. That’s 16 weeks, the entire NFL season, for which he is paid $1 million.
Chris Long has also been in the news because of the national anthem controversy. He first came to light during a preseason game in August when he put his arm around teammate Malcolm Jenkins who had raised his fist in protest. “I just told Malcolm, ‘I’m here for you,’” Long told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I think it’s a good time for people that look like me to be here for people that are fighting for equality.” Long had his left arm on Jenkins’s shoulder. He had his right hand over his own heart.
“I’ll always stand for [the anthem],” he said this week, “but at the same time, I’m gonna support what Malcolm’s doing wholeheartedly and hopefully walk the walk tenfold off the field.”
That’s called principle.
And finally, I ask as a concerned veteran, how did this issue morph into dishonoring the military? In my three years in the army, we sang a lot about Jody, the guy back home with the deferment who was snaking our girlfriends, but not once did we sing the national anthem. Doesn’t the anthem belong to all Americans, including, let’s not forget, those who protest injustice in its name?