Chris Long is not about to “stick to football,” not after watching the violence that occurred in his home town of Charlottesville last month.
“In August, we watched people fill our hometown streets with hatred and bigotry,” Long, who played at the University of Virginia, said in a statement. “Megan [Long’s wife] and I decided to try to combat those actions with our own positive investment in our community.
“We want these scholarships to be reflective of what the ‘Cville’ community is really about — supporting one another, social equality and building up those in our community who need it,” he added. “We hope our investment will change the lives of the students who receive the scholarship and in turn, those students can positively impact others.”
That community was stunned when white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members clashed with counterprotesters. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed when a car plowed into a crowd. Trump condemned violence on both sides and Long, like many athletes, decided to speak up about that.
“Some people are tired of hearing me tweet because they want me to stick to football, but I like to use social media like I was a regular guy because I think I am,” Long said (via CSNPhilly.com) last month. “I don’t tell people to stick to their job when they want to talk politics. And this isn’t political. That’s the thing. Everybody is trying to turn this political. This isn’t a political issue. This is right or wrong.
“I believe you’re on one side or the other. For me, being from Charlottesville, no one wants to see you sit idly by and watch that stuff happen and not say anything. And I wish there was more categorical denial from some very important people in this country who have had the opportunity to strike it down but didn’t.”
Last month, after white players were called out by, among others, the Seattle Seahawks’ Michael Bennett, for not supporting black players who protested police brutality by not standing for the national anthem, Long moved to stand beside teammate Malcolm Jenkins before a preseason game. Long has continued to stand by Jenkins during the anthem.
“I’ve heard a lot of people say you need white athletes to get involved in the anthem protests,” Long said afterward. “I’ve said before I’ll never kneel for an anthem, because the flag means something different for everybody in this country, but I support my peers. And if you don’t see why you need allies for people that are fighting for equality right now, I don’t think you’ll ever see it. So my thing is, Malcolm is a leader, and I’m here to show support as a white athlete.”
The scholarships will be given through the Chris Long Foundation, which has worked to support youth programs in St. Louis (where he also played) as well as Charlottesville. He also started the Waterboys initiative to raise money to bring clean water to East Africa.
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