Chris Long has (no pun intended) long been an advocate for social issues. While he used his platform to make a positive impact, such as the creation of Waterboys, he was conflicted because this wasn’t about brand building for him. In his eyes, what you see is what you get. Long worked his ass off to be the best player he could be while being true to himself. He told Peter King of NBC, “NFL Man of the Year… I never felt deserving of it. I am not the best person in the NFL. I never want to get up there promoting myself as some infallible person. I was very honored. But I was also conflicted that people saw me as this community service guy, not a player. Nobody saw me as the player I was in my prime. I don’t want to be known as Community Service Guy; I want to be known as a guy who busted his ass for 11 years at his craft.” In the same breath, Long was incredibly successful both on and off the field. He raised $2.25 million for his foundation and has been an exceptional ally in the fight against racial inequality.
Long continued, “But I do appreciate the fact that people saw that I played for free for one year, that I was part of a group that built 61 wells for people to get fresh water in Africa, and that we’ve got 220,000 people drinking from our wells.” In fact, he attracted athletes from football and other sports to join the movement. Long has brought teammates on the trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro each offseason and has had athletes like Malcolm Brogdon raise money for water wells. He has authentically been his own person – he’s advocated alongside his teammates for social issues and been a leader in the space. Throughout his career, Long has grown more comfortable in his voice and used his platform to raise awareness and funds for causes important to him. As one of the “good guys” in the league, he will be sorely missed.
Why We Like It:
Chris Long, whether he likes it or not, became a role model for younger athletes. He discovered an issue that he was passionate about and one that is underserved and put his all into it. While some athletes carefully craft their image and use community relations as a tool to enhance their brand, Long is simply unapologetic that this isn’t him. He stayed true to his identity and that’s what made him so successful in raising money and awareness for Waterboys.