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Chris Long’s real passion is helping people all over the world

Communities near and far have benefited from the passion of the Eagles defensive lineman.

The ways in which Eagles defender Chris Long has committed himself, and his wallet, to the community both near and far, is vast. So vast, that it’d be hard to accurately collect and note each and every way he’s used his platform to give back to those who need him, which is why he is so deserving of the team’s nomination for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.

And while Long himself may be too humble to fully appreciate why he’s been given this year’s nomination, there should be no question that he deserves the honor when looking at all the work he’s done off the field. From playing for free in an effort to support education, both locally and nationally, to actually climbing Kilimanjaro (multiple times) in an effort to provide clean drinking water to millions in Africa, his commitment is relentless, and deserves to be appreciated.

As 2018 was nearing its end, NFL Films released a documentary “The Way Up: Chris Long and the Waterboys”, and it was amazing. Narrated by Uma Thurman — who you’d have no idea was the voice until the credits —, the story began with Long’s decision to continue playing football after winning a Super Bowl with New England, all in an effort to further his advocacy and platform as an NFL player.

The documentary touched on Long joining the Eagles the next season, and the team’s unprecedented Super Bowl run of their own. And then, after the parade confetti finished falling, it showed former and current players like Connor Barwin, Nate Boyer, Steven Jackson, and even Vince Young, preparing to take on a different challenge: Mt. Kilimanjaro.

It wasn’t just athletes that made up the #ConquerKili team, but half of the group included military vets, two of which were amputees, and another who had suffered significant injuries that made the climb particularly challenging. Still, these men came together in an effort to bring awareness, and funds, to build wells in Tanzania to provide clean drinking water to thousands of children and their families.

This was Long’s second trek up the mountain, and the film crew allowed him and the others to show why this effort was so important. The kids in the villages they are trying to help had to spend much of their day, before and after school, collecting water from rivers and streams that would make most American’s cringe.

And while the kids then head to the classroom, the women in the village often carry 40 pound buckets of water up to 10 miles each way back to their village, some carrying two buckets, and some making more than one trip. The work to get water that’s brown and filled with all kinds of bacteria, is immeasurable, and yet, something they don’t complain about.

Long has talked about his preference in putting his platform behind tangible things he can change, and building wells in these communities is something that can happen quickly and immediately changes the lives of thousands.

Long has been lauded for his decision to forego a paycheck during the 2017 season, instead donating it to charity, and his commitment to that same play-for-free mentality he carried into 2018, but while those efforts get the most headlines, it’s been his work overseas that has probably had the biggest impact. And, he isn’t here for anyone to question whether his commitment should stay domestically, either.

Chris Long will always be known for being an incredible football player, but his commitment to helping communities near and far will be his legacy. And, I don’t think he’d have it any other way.

So, whether or not he ends up winning the 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, you can bet that he will stay focused on helping others and bringing light to as many as he can.

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