Chris Long

Chris Long to donate final 10 Eagles game checks, play for free

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Chris Long to donate final 10 Eagles game checks, play for free

Chris Long is now basically playing for free this year. 

The Eagles' veteran defensive end, who had already pledged to give away his first six game checks of this season for scholarships in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, is now giving away the final 10 to his three NFL cities.

This season, Long had a base salary of $1 million. All of that money is now going to fund the education of others. 

Still want him to stick to sports? 

Long, 32, on Wednesday morning announced he's giving away his final 10 checks this season to four organizations he has identified "whose missions focus on making education easily accessible to underserved youth while also providing students the support they need to develop strong social and emotional character." 

Those four organizations are based in Philadelphia, Boston and St. Louis, the three cities he's played for during his NFL career. 

"In my 10th year, I want to celebrate the awesome opportunity I've had to play football by giving back to the communities that have given me that gift," Long said in a statement. "Educational opportunity and equity are the best gateway to a better tomorrow for everyone in America."

With the donation, The Chris Long Foundation also announced the creation of the "Pledge 10 for Tomorrow" campaign, which hopes Long's donation will be matched by pledges. For those who wish to pledge money to the cause, click here.

Since arriving in Philadelphia this offseason, it's been pretty clear Long is one of the more socially aware and active players in the Eagles' locker room. He's been outspoken on social issues but is now proving he's not stopping with words. He's putting money and effort into improving communities he cares about. 

"I’ve been lucky," Long said after donating his first six game checks earlier this year. "I’ve made a lot of money in my career, so it’s not like I’m scrapping check to check. This isn’t a hero thing. It’s nothing like that. It’s honestly just that I want to put my money where my mouth is."

Houston's J.J. Watt was the runaway leader for the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year award after raising millions for Hurricane Harvey relief, but Long would certainly be deserving too. It's not unprecedented for the award to be split among two players. In fact, Larry Fitzgerald and Eli Manning shared it just last year. 

But Long isn't giving away his entire salary for an award. He's doing it because he cares. He's doing it to make a difference. 

He's using his platform to change the lives of others. 

Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long excused from Eagles practice to attend league meetings

Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long excused from Eagles practice to attend league meetings

For over a year, Malcolm Jenkins has raised his fist during the playing of the national anthem before Eagles games. 

On Tuesday, he was in New York City for a joint meeting between players, owners and the NFLPA in an attempt to find common ground on the same social issues that have led to those pregame demonstrations.

Jenkins told a group of reporters that the two-hour meeting went "really well."

Jenkins and teammate Chris Long were both excused from the Eagles' light practice on Tuesday to be in New York for the meeting. They were two of 12 current players representing eight NFL teams. Former NFL player Anquan Boldin was also in attendance. 

Eagles owner Jeff Lurie was one of 11 owners in attendance. 

"This was the first time we have gotten the chance to sit down in front of ownership," Jenkins said, via NFL Network. "We felt like they were receptive. We felt like there was real dialogue and conversation and thought it was positive." 

The NFL was represented by commissioner Roger Goodell and executive vice president of football operations (and former Eagle) Troy Vincent, while the NFLPA was represented by executive director DeMaurice Smith, president Eric Winston and senior director of player affairs Don Davis. 

The NFL and NFLPA released the following joint statement: 

"Today owners and players had a productive meeting focused on how we can work together to promote positive social change and address inequality in our communities. NFL executives and owners joined NFLPA executives and player leaders to review and discuss plans to utilize our platform to promote equality and effectuate positive change. We agreed that these are common issues and pledged to meet again to continue this work together. 

"As we said last week, everyone who is part of our NFL community has a tremendous respect for our country, our flag, our anthem and our military. In the best American tradition, we are coming together to find common ground and commit to the hard work required for positive change."

While there didn't seem to be a message of finality about anthem protests in that statement, it appears both sides took a big step in the right direction as far as social justice issues go. Jenkins said there wasn't much talk about the demonstrations during the anthem. They instead focused on issues of social injustice and ways to solve those problems. 

This season, Jenkins has continued to raise his fist during the anthem and Long, his teammate, has put his arm around him as a showing of solidarity. Safety Rodney McLeod has also begun to raise his fist. 

But too much attention has now shifted to the protests during the anthem instead of the actual issues at hand. Jenkins, in particular, cares about social and racial injustice; the fist in the air was just a way to start a conversation about those issues. 

"Obviously, we've been invited in here to be able to speak to the owners about some of the issues of injustice that we've seen in our communities and how as players we want to use our platform," Jenkins said. "And we just talked about how the owners could come alongside us and we could collectively collaborate and work together to bring some change and some real change. Those conversations will continue, the dialogue will continue and as players we'll continue to do the work in our communities. We feel like that's the most American thing to do, is to use your platform and your influence on the stage that we have as NFL players. And as a league in general, we feel a real responsibility to our country, to our communities, so we're working through ways to have long-lasting change." 

The demonstrations became even more widespread after President Donald Trump encouraged NFL owners to release players who protested during the anthem. A couple days after those comments, the Eagles linked arms during the anthem in a showing of solidarity. 

While Torrey Smith wasn't in attendance during Tuesday's meeting in New York, he's one of the more socially active Eagles. He said there have been a lot of phone calls and coordinating between players over the last few weeks about these issues and handling them with the league. 

"A win for me coming out of those meetings is that everyone's on the same page and trying to help the people in this country and use our game, which unites people from all different races, all different areas, all different levels of income, for one moment, for these games," Smith said. "And there's no better platform than for us to work together and try to benefit our country.

"Our owners have the power to impact a lot of lives in terms of whether it's financially or their guidance. I feel like it's our duty. Obviously, we're playing ball but the fans that are cheering us on, the fans that are working in these stadiums, the fans that are working in these neighborhoods are affected by some of the things that we're fighting for. If anyone thinks it's not an issue for us to be involved in as athletes or the owners of the NFL, then you're looking at it dead wrong."

After missing Tuesday's practice, neither Jenkins nor Long were available for comment in the Eagles' locker room. The Eagles will be back at practice Thursday as they prepare to host Washington on Monday night. 

Information from the Associated Press was used in this story. 

10 most surprising Eagles from NFC East-leading 5-1 start

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10 most surprising Eagles from NFC East-leading 5-1 start

We all pretty much knew Malcolm Jenkins would have another big year. We all pretty much knew Carson Wentz would improve dramatically, Zach Ertz would have a career season and Brandon Graham would have success getting after the quarterback.
 
Then there are the surprises. On this team, there've been a ton of them.
 
The Eagles, at 5-1, are already just two wins short of last year's total and have more wins than the rest of the NFC East combined.
 
Let's take a look at the 10 biggest surprises so far this year on this first-place Eagles team. (And don't look for Nelson Agholor on this list. His performance may be surprising to some people but not to me!)
 
1. Patrick Robinson
Honestly, Robinson's career looked like it was over this summer. He was with his fourth team in four years, and he was so bad early in training camp and the Eagles had so many promising young corners you had to wonder if there was even a roster spot for Robinson. But not only did he make the team and earn a starting spot when Ronald Darby got hurt, he's played at such a consistently high level you can make a case he's been the Eagles' Defensive MVP so far. He's got a team-high nine knockdowns, two interceptions and he's just been consistently solid in coverage.
 
2. LeGarrette Blount
Maybe it's not a huge surprise Blount has been so productive because he did score 18 touchdowns for the Patriots last year. But the surprise is his 5.6 yards-per-carry average — second-best in the league and tops in the NFC among regular backs (at least eight carries per game). Blount averaged just 3.9 yards per carry last year and hasn't been over 4.5 since 2013. And he's 30 now. That 5.6 figure is fourth-highest in NFL history by a running back in his 30s after six games. With Darren Sproles out, Donnel Pumphrey struggling throughout camp and now on the shelf and Wendell Smallwood out the last couple games as well, the Eagles have really needed Blount, and he's responded in a huge way. He's giving the Eagles way more than anybody expected.
 
3. Rasul Douglas
Injuries forced the Eagles to use Douglas in Week 2 after he was inactive on opening day, and he's been starting ever since. Douglas has given up some plays — what rookie cornerback hasn't? — but despite less than world-class speed he's shown an ability to cover, tackle and support the run. Douglas needs to be more consistent, but he's got two interceptions in five games — the first Eagles corner with two INTs in his first five career games since Eric Allen — and he's only going to get better.
 
4. Jake Elliott
What a story. The Bengals draft Elliott in the fifth round, risk losing him by placing him on the practice squad, then Caleb Sturgis gets hurt, the Eagles sign Elliott, and he proceeds to make three kicks of 50 yards or more in his first five games — including a game-winning 61-yarder, the third-longest walk-off field goal in NFL history. Despite not playing on opening day, Elliott is fourth in the NFL in scoring, with 49 points. He's 12 for 14 overall, including 10 straight makes. He's already one of the most accomplished long-range kickers in Eagles history. And he's played five games. 
 
5. Mychal Kendricks
Kendricks' once-promising career seemed to fizzle out the last couple years. Check out his playing time his first five NFL seasons: 88.5 percent in 2012 (under Juan Castillo and Todd Bowles), then 82.6 percent, 65.5 percent and 51.6 percent in 2013 through 2015 (under Bill Davis) and down to 26.7 percent last year under Jim Schwartz. A downward spiral. But Kendricks forced the Eagles to play him with a fantastic preseason, and he's backed that up with some really solid play so far this year. Kendricks had his best game in years Thursday night in Charlotte, North Carolina, with 15 total tackles, a tackle for loss and two special teams tackles. He played 55 snaps — his most in two years — and is now at 52 percent for the season. It's been a long time since we've seen Kendricks play at this level, and it's safe to say few people saw it coming.
 
6. Tim Jernigan
Hard to believe after watching these first six games that the Ravens didn't want Jernigan back. From what he's shown so far, he's a big-time player. Why would the Ravens give up on a 24-year-old defensive lineman with this much potential? Apparently, they felt he wasn't consistent enough. But if he's able to continue delivering the type of play that he has so far, it was a steal for the Eagles. Jernigan already has six tackles for loss, 1½ sacks and four hurries, not to mention stout play against the run all year. He's been way better than advertised.
 
7. Chris Long
Any notion the Eagles just brought Long in for leadership and emergency depth was quickly dispelled when we started to see him play. Long has a lot left. He's averaging 28 snaps, is tied for second on the team with 2.0 sacks and played a season-high 41 snaps in a big way Thursday night down in Charlotte. Long, now 32 years old, can still play.
 
8. Mack Hollins
When training camp began, Hollis was probably behind Jordan Matthews, Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor, Dorial Green-Beckham, Paul Turner, Shelton Gibson and maybe even Bryce Treggs. So he was eighth-team. Now the rookie fifth-round pick is working his way up the Eagles' wide receiving hierarchy. He hasn't played a lot — about 10 snaps per game — but he's got five catches on five targets for five first downs, including a big 20-yarder Thursday night against the Panthers. Keep an eye on Hollins. He's going to be a good one.
 
9. Jason Kelce
Kelce's performance hasn't been a surprise to everybody, but there was certainly a large contingent of people who felt the veteran center should be released this offseason or preseason after his level of play dropped last year. But Kelce has been terrific in the middle of the NFL's No. 4-ranked offense and No. 5-ranked running game. So far a resurgent year for the two-time Pro Bowler.
 
10. Corey Clement
Down three running backs — Darren Sproles, Donnel Pumphrey and Wendell Smallwood — the Eagles have asked a lot of Clement, and the undrafted rookie has made some nice contributions, including a 15-yard touchdown run against the Giants, a 22-yard catch and run against the Cards and a 35-yard kickoff return against the Giants. It's rare to get much of anything from rookie tailbacks, but Clement has done a nice job taking advantage of his opportunities.