Chris Long demonstrates what it means to be a class act. From his inspirational community work to his two Super Bowl victories, Long is a champion both on and off the field. That was highlighted this weekend when Long was honored with the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

Long was presented with the award both at the annual NFL Honors show and on the field at Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta. The Man of the Year award is given to an NFL player for his excellence both on and off the field. The award was established in 1970, and was later renamed in 1999 to honor Walter Payton. Each team nominates one player who had a positive impact on their community, and Long was voted as the most deserving.

In his time as a professional athlete, Long has consistently highlighted storylines for his work off of the field. In 2017, Long found himself in the headlines most after he donated his first six game checks to fund scholarships in Charlottesville, Virginia, and then his final 10 game check to programs that promote educational equality in Boston, St. Louis and Philadelphia. However, Long’s community work spreads well beyond that.

In 2018, Long began the First Quarter for Literacy program to provide underserved families in Philadelphia with free books, literary resources and mentoring services.

Long also launched Waterboys, a humanitarian program that unites athletes and fans to raise funds, along with awareness, to provide clean drinking water to East African communities in need. So far, Long’s program has raised over $3 million, which has funded 55 clean-water wells that provide water for more than 200,000 people. In his two seasons with the Eagles, Long has raised approximately $2.25 million to donate for education equality programs.

Under the Waterboys program, Long started the “Conquering Kili” program. The program encourages both military veterans and NFL players to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro in an effort to reach the top together.

As a reward for the prestigious honor, the Chris Long Foundation will receive a $250,000 donation, along with another donation of the same value to the United Way in Long’s name.

After being announced as the winner, Long released the following statement:

“I am honored to be named the 2018 Walter Payton Man of the Year and to join the long line of men who have received this prestigious honor. While I am officially accepted 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 impact change in our local communities and around the world.”

Long also made a memorable speech at the NFL’s Honors show, which is one that reminds everybody what life is truly about.

Long signed with the Eagles prior to the 2017 season, and was part of the group that won the franchise’s first ever Super Bowl. In his time as an Eagle, Long has 67 tackles and 11.5 sacks. Long also won the Super Bowl in the 2016-17 season with the Patriots.

Photo: Chris Long/Twitter
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