ATLANTA, Ga. (FOX 29) - Philadelphia Eagles' defensive end Chris Long has been named the 2018 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.
Long received the NFL's most distinguished award in a ceremony Saturday night in Atlanta, ahead of Super Bowl LIII. The Chris Long Foundation, Long's foundation established to help local communities, will receive a $250,000 donation from the NFL. An additional $250,000 will be donated to the United Way in Long's name.
"I am honored to be named the 2018 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year and to join the long line of men who have received this prestigious honor," Long stated.
"While I am officially accepting this award, we would not be able to accomplish our goals with the support and participation of countless other individuals. I am humbled by the support we have received from my peers who have donated to our various matching-campaigns, the commitment and perseverance displayed by the veterans who have climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with me each year, and the generosity of our fans who have made vital contributions to our foundation over the years. I am incredibly thankful that football has provided me with a platform to give back and I am proud that so many of my colleagues have decided to use this stage to create positive and impactful change in our local communities and around the world."
Long began the 2017 season by donating his first six paychecks to scholarships in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. In that same season, Long eventually donated the remaining 10 paychecks to support programs that promote educational equity in the three cities where he has been a player: St. Louis, Boston and Philadelphia.
Long created First Quarter for Literacy in 2018. This program provides families with inadequate resources free books, literary resources and mentoring services. Long donated approximately one quarter of his 2018 salary to this new program.
In total, through Long's efforts, an estimated $2.25 million has gone to educational equity programs.