Defensive end Chris Long, now a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, has never been a shrinking violet on social media. His Twitter feed is a testament to that – he tweets about his favorite NBA team, the New York Knicks, “Game of Thrones”, and social issues.
That last one, social issues, is of course a hot-button topic. To some, inexplicably, Long’s status as a professional athlete means he’s not able to share his thoughts on the topics of the day, topics that impact him as an American citizen the same way they impact other American citizens.
But while he’s given his thoughts on other topics, the weekend’s events in Charlottesville, Va., were intensely personal for Long. He and his family moved to the city from California when Long was in grade school, and Long attended and played football at the University of Virginia, whose campus is in the city.
Long’s first tweet on the events in Charlottesville came midday Saturday, as tensions were ramping up between white supremacists and counter-protesters, and he insisted that the images the world was seeing did not represent “CVille,” and he also took President Donald Trump to task, as many did on Saturday, for not expressly condemning the KKK, neo-nazis and the white supremacist groups that descended upon Charlottesville, one of whom allegedly killed a woman after intentionally driving his car into a crowd of counter-protesters.
He of course got pushback, with some using the hackneyed “stick to sports” response.
But in a chat with reporters after practice on Sunday, Long explained why he won’t be quiet, and expanded on his thoughts on Charlottesville.
“When you think about the right way to digest it, it’s hard to do anything but get angry. I don’t know if that’s what these people are trying to incite, but it’s working. It pisses you off,” Long said. “You know that subculture exists in our country, and it has in our country for a long time, but when they all get together in one place — especially your hometown — it really bothers you.”
Long noted that the majority of the marchers in Charlottesville, which was the capital of the Confederacy, traveled in, and is adamant that it wasn’t all residents.
“People are asking me, ‘Why Charlottesville?’ ” Long said. “Look, Charlottesville is taking the right steps to accommodate the sensitivities of people who might feel offended by statues and parks named after Confederate generals. I think that is very reasonable. I don’t know what it’s like to walk past a statue like that, as a minority. We’re doing the right thing.”
The white supremacist groups were in Charlottesville because of the city’s plans to move statues of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
“If you say ‘It’s history and shouldn’t be destroyed,’ then put it in a museum where they can educate people about how far we’ve come, and the dangers of white supremacy and the Confederacy,” Long said. “Don’t put it in a public place, where people who might be offended by it have to walk by it every day.”
Long also has a response for those who want to quiet him.
“If you listen to people who tell you to ‘Stick to sports,’ I would ask them, ‘Do you stick to whatever your occupation is?’ ” Long said. “People always want to hear from athletes when they agree with them. When we voice a [dissenting] opinion, they have an issue with it. I think that athletes are role models. We should think about what we’re saying, then speak. And speak wisely.”
Long was a member of the Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots last season and was one of several players who opted not to attend the traditional White House ceremony.