Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long, a member of the New England Patriots' Super Bowl LI-winning squad, was named Saturday night by the NFL as the winner of its prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year award, honoring a player's humanitarianism and excellence on the field.
[1 of 2] Walter Payton set a tremendous example of what it looks like to succeed on the field while leaving an even bigger legacy off it. I accept this award humbly, and undeservingly join the company of men that have been honored before me. pic.twitter.com/ZZYvbTqCfc
— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) February 3, 2019
Long has garnered world-wide praise for his Waterboys foundation, which brings clean drinking water in underdeveloped countries, as well as the foundation's "Conquering Kili" program, which brings military veterans and NFL players together to reach the top of Mount Kilimanjiro, inspired by his first ascent of the world-renowned mountain years ago. Long also donated all 16 of his game checks this season to helping low-income children, essentially playing for free in 2018.
Long took time to thank the city of Boston in his acceptance speech, which closed out the awards show.
"I see it as more of a challenge than an accomplishment," Long said to the other 31 nominees in his speech. "To be who we say we are, not just on easy nights like this, but when nobody's watching. For all the evils in the world, I think that apathy is the most dangerous."
Long, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft, signed a one-year deal with the Patriots in 2016 on a cap-friendly deal and proceeded to win his first Super Bowl ring. He signed with Philadelphia the following season, and opposed New England in Super Bowl LII, which was won by the Eagles.
His ties to Boston go back a ways. Long's father Howie, one of the NFL's all-time greatest defensive linemen, was raised in Charlestown and attended high school in suburban Milford.
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