Chris Long announced through his foundation on Tuesday that he will donate the first six game checks of this season to fund two seven-year, all-expenses-paid scholarships to St. Anne's-Belfield School in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia.
It's not the first time Long has paid for a student's education at his alma mater, but following the tragic events in Charlottesville last month the defensive end felt the need to take urgent action.
"Just in the wake of everything that happened in Charlottesville, we were trying to turn a negative situation into doing a little bit of something positive," Long said at the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday afternoon. "And coming out of my game checks kind of makes sure that it's coming from something I love doing every Sunday which is playing football and I know that I'm directly trying to impact my community through doing that."
Long wants to help promote equality through education. He was moved by the documentary Waiting for Superman that highlighted the need for public school reform in our country.
"I think that education is the best gateway to upward mobility and to a better life for a kid that might not be able to control his or her situation at home," Long said. "I think that giving a kid the chance to go to college or do something that they didn't have the opportunity otherwise to do kind of speaks to me. I know that was something I took for granted to a large degree and I always had that opportunity.
"Just seeing some kids, they love school the way you want every kid to love school and they might not have that opportunity to get the best education or they might be in an at-risk situation in their home life and they could really use that structure. To not get it, that just breaks your heart. So you just try to do a little bit and hopefully you can improve the world and the future greatly for a couple kids."
The two students who receive the scholarships will be chosen by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Virginia. Long said that gamedays will have even more meaning because of what he's playing for.
"For much of my career I tried to do things quietly, but now I think it's a time that's appropriate for NFL athletes to take action and do it loudly," Long said. "Hopefully it will inspire people in my hometown, and maybe elsewhere, to invest in education as a means to increasing diversity in a school in a community where people might be a little more separate because of the way they're getting educated, the school they go to. I think it's just a good way to do it and hopefully, we can keep it going."