Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long has been accorded one of the highest honors available to pro football players.
Long on Saturday night was named 2018 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year at the NFL Honors banquet at the FOX Theatre in Atlanta.
The Chris Long Foundation receives a $250,000 donation from the NFL's charity foundation, and another $250,000 will be donated in Long's name to the United Way.
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," Long said in a statement released by the Eagles. "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.
Long has 11½ sacks and six forced fumbles in two seasons with the Eagles. He was a key pass rusher on the 2017 team that won the Super Bowl.
But he's made his biggest impact off the field:
In partnership with NBC Sports Philadelphia
• In 2015, Long established the Chris Long Foundation, whose mission is to impact communities locally and around the globe through programming focused around three main philanthropic causes: clean water, military appreciation and youth education.
• Long donated his first six game checks in 2017 to fund scholarships in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, and then donated his remaining 10 game checks to support programs that promote educational equity in the cities in which he has played - St. Louis, Boston and Philadelphia. Through his "Pledge 10 for Tomorrow" program, he raised an additional $1.75 million to support educational programs.
• In 2018, Long created the "First Quarter for Literacy" program, which provides underserved Philadelphia families and families nationwide with books, literacy resources and mentoring services.
• Long's Waterboys initiative unites professional athletes and fans to raise funds and awareness to provide clean drinking water to poverty-stricken communities in East Africa. As part of Waterboys, Long and former Green Beret Nate Boyer started an annual climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro known as Conquering Kili. Waterboys has already raised more than $3 million and has funded 55 wells that will provide water to 211,000 people.
Chris Long is one of the finest individuals that I have encountered during my 25 years in the National Football League," Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said. "Chris' on-field contributions and his presence in the locker room were instrumental in our success over the last two seasons and I will always be grateful for the role he played in bringing the city of Philadelphia its first Super Bowl championship. Chris has also displayed remarkable stewardship off the field, both locally and globally. He is a model citizen and leader, and he is someone that we can all look up to and learn a great deal from. I admire the work that he has done throughout his career to help source clean water in East Africa, create educational equity programs and provide support to military veterans. Civic responsibility is one of our organization's core values, and in my eyes, Chris has lived up to and exceeded the high standards of what it means to be a Philadelphia Eagle. There is no one more deserving of this award.
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