Chris Long is loving his 1st season in Philly

Chris Long is loving his 1st season in Philly

It's been quite a year for Chris Long. He signed with the Eagles after winning a Super Bowl with the Patriots and has earned a significant amount of playing time and recorded five sacks and four forced fumbles in the defensive line rotation. He donated his entire 2017 base salary to fund scholarships in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, and he even got a shoutout from President Obama for his charity work (see story)

This week Long spent "5 Minutes with Roob."

Roob: Hey, we're joined today by Eagles defensive end Chris Long. Hey, Chris! What's this year been like for you?

Long: I really like the city, I like the fans, obviously came here because it fit me scheme-wise, and I’ve been enjoying being a part of a really good football team that hopefully is going to play here for a while.

Roob: You won 37 games in eight years with the Rams, and you've won 27 games the last two years with the Patriots and Eagles. How sweet is it to finally be part of a couple winning teams?

Long: It certainly helps. At the end of the day, it doesn’t make the eight years any shorter from that standpoint, but I think everything happens for a reason and it makes me value this winning a lot more. So just appreciate what it’s taken to get here personally and it makes everything worth even more.

Roob: You've put up solid numbers in your 10th season at 32 years old. How do you feel like you've played? 

Long: I’m excited to be a part of this defense. I expected more out of myself maybe as far as statistically. I was shooting for more. A couple plays here and there that if I make those plays or if there aren’t penalties, we’re talking about even more. But at the end of the day, I’d say you come into a situation like this — new city, new coaching staff, nobody’s going to expect much out of you at 32 years old. People put labels on you and I just tried to play my way out of that.

Roob: Where do you feel like you guys are right now, a few weeks after you lost Carson Wentz for the season?

Long: Nick (Foles) came in in L.A. against a tough defense and was able to help secure the win and the next week really carried us in New York when we weren’t at our best defensively. Gave us an opportunity to win that game by putting up big numbers. We played really well on defense last week. Maybe the offense wasn’t at its best, but we created some turnovers and that’s what a team is, we pick each other up. It can change from week to week. We want to put that together and play our best game on both sides of the ball this week and going forward.

Roob: What do you like best about this team?

Long: I think personalities. Unselfishness. I do think Doug (Pederson) does a great job of keeping everybody resilient and even-keeled and I think that shows in the locker room. There’s never panic among players. I think we’re just a level-headed group and unselfish and come to work.

Roob: How much longer do you want to play?

Long: I take everything year to year. Honestly, it’s all about the situation. Do I think it’s worth it to play, and I’m not talking about money, I’m just talking about just enjoying myself and playing football the way I want to. My body feels great and I feel like, God willing, I could go another four sometimes, but you’ve got to take things year to year.

Roob: You've gotten a lot of publicity for donating your salary to charity and the charity work you've done. What does that mean to you?

Long: Most of my career I’ve tried to do things under the radar in the community. I always thought it was more important if you didn’t publicize it, but I learned a valuable lesson when I formed my own foundation and my Waterboys Initiative that you need to publicize things and get people involved, and through that power, we’ve been able to raise over $2 million for clean water. That doesn’t include my own money and as far as my Pledge 10 for Tomorrow Initiative that I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of, I’ve donated my salary, which isn’t a ton of money, but at the end of the day I’ve been pretty much able to double that with fan support, and without doing that stuff publicly I can’t get a return on my investment in those causes. We’ve got a lot of great fans in the NFL and a lot of great peers in the NFL that care deeply about causes and if we all pitch in together that’s the power of sports.

NFL players, including Malcolm Jenkins, respond to Trump’s request

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NFL players, including Malcolm Jenkins, respond to Trump’s request

You might remember earlier this month, when President Donald Trump acknowledged one of the reasons some NFL players have been demonstrating during the national anthem and asked for suggestions for names of people to pardon (see story).

As a reminder, this is what Trump said back on June 8: 

“I am going to ask all of those people to recommend to me — because that’s what they’re protesting — people that they think were unfairly treated by the justice system,” Trump said. “And I understand that. And I’m going to ask them to recommend to me people that were unfairly treated — friends of theirs or people that they know about — and I’m going to take a look at those applications. And if I find, and my committee finds that they are unfairly treated, then we will pardon them or at least let them out (of prison).”

Players — at least the Players Coalition, including Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins — responded to that request from the president today in an op-ed in the New York Times

The main idea of the op-ed was that the President’s power to pardon people can certainly help, but it doesn’t change the criminal justice system or help combat systemic racism. 

Here’s part of the op-ed, penned by Jenkins, Doug Baldwin, Anquan Boldin and Benjamin Watson, four members of the Players Coalition made up of NFL players: 

President Trump recently made an offer to National Football League players like us who are committed to protesting injustice. Instead of protesting, he suggested, we should give him names of people we believe were ‘unfairly treated by the justice system.’ If he agrees they were treated unfairly, he said, he will pardon them.

To be sure, the president’s clemency power can be a valuable tool for redressing injustice. Just look at Alice Johnson, age 63, who was serving a life sentence for a nonviolent drug conviction until her sentence was commuted by President Trump. He should be commended for using his clemency power in that case.

But a handful of pardons will not address the sort of systemic injustice that N.F.L. players have been protesting. These are problems that our government has created, many of which occur at the local level. If President Trump thinks he can end these injustices if we deliver him a few names, he hasn’t been listening to us.

That’s just a very small part of the full op-ed. To read the whole thing, click here

The rest of the piece gets into more specific instances where the players think the criminal justice system should be overhauled and ask the president to use his power to help change it. 

An interesting note toward the bottom of the piece tells Trump, “Our being professional athletes has nothing to do with our commitment to fighting injustice. We are citizens who embrace the values of empathy, integrity and justice, and we will fight for what we believe is right.”

While that might be true, these players have a platform because of their ability on the football field. One they’re using to try to make positive changes in the country. 

Several players, including Eagles defensive end Chris Long and former Eagles receiver Torrey Smith, along with Jenkins, also posted video responses to Trump’s request: 

More on the Eagles

Nick Foles is a legend, but Eagles still need Carson Wentz

Nick Foles is a legend, but Eagles still need Carson Wentz

I’ve heard this a lot over the last few months: The Eagles won the Super Bowl with Nick Foles. 

It’s a very true statement, but still has flaws. 

And before we get too far into this, I want to offer a disclaimer. What Foles did in last year’s playoffs was incredible. He’ll go down as an all-time great Eagle and deserves all the credit in the world for getting it done and becoming the Super Bowl MVP. 

But the problem with “The Eagles won the Super Bowl with Nick Foles” is two-fold. 

First, it neglects the incredible contributions Carson Wentz made to winning that Super Bowl by playing at an MVP level before going down in December. 

Second, it makes it seem like it's a real possibility the Eagles could repeat with Foles, even if Wentz doesn’t return to form. 

This is going to seem obvious, but apparently, it’s not: the Eagles need Wentz. 

Let’s start with the first of those two points. Because of how amazing Foles was in the playoffs, it’s easy to forget just how good Wentz was in 13 starts. He wasn’t just good, he was MVP-of-the-league good. A little while back, Reuben Frank dove back into some incredible Wentz stats (see story).

Now, we’ll never know if Wentz would have been able to pull off the kind of magic Foles did in the playoffs the same way we’ll never know if Foles would have been able to lead the Eagles to an 11-2 record through 13 games. But, at least for me, I have an easier time believing that Wentz could have lived up to Foles’ level of play than Foles’ playing at an MVP level through most of the regular season. 

Sure, Foles dunked in the playoffs, but Wentz provided the alley-oop. Wentz was the biggest part of the reason the Eagles won the NFC East. He was the reason they were able to overcome so many injuries to not only get a first-round bye, but to also earn homefield advantage in the playoffs. Imagine what happens if the Eagles have to play a wildcard game or have to travel to Atlanta or Minnesota. If the Eagles don’t have that bye week, can Brandon Graham heal in time for that wild-card game? Maybe not. 

So maybe they still make it through the playoffs, but Wentz definitely made the road much easier. 

The second part of this might be hard to swallow after Foles has been called the greatest insurance policy in the NFL for months. That’s pretty true as well. As far as backup quarterbacks go, having a Super Bowl MVP is pretty good. 

But there’s a reason the Eagles view Wentz, not Foles, as their future. There’s a reason that before the Super Bowl, when the team took a team photo, Wentz was the only player not in position by jersey number. He instead was in the direct center, as the face of the franchise. He’s special. 

Last week, I was on Philly Sports Talk and guest co-host Danny Pommells suggested that Foles start the opener because of the fear of rushing Wentz back too soon. I understood the point, but disagreed. In this league, there aren’t any easy games; there’s no time to wait for a healthy player to get healthy. Because if Wentz gets cleared by doctors, there’s no decision to make. He’s still the starter because he’s the better player. 

And that isn’t a shot on Foles, saying that one of the best quarterbacks in the league — a guy who could go down as an all-time great — is better than him. It’s just the truth. Although, it seems recently we’ve been blinded by the bling of 219 diamonds in a Super Bowl ring.