Chris Long has retired.
If you’re a fan of American professional football in any capacity and not someone who drinks from the libations of the far right, you love Chris Long.
No matter where this man has walked the earth, stories of his awesomeness abound.
He announced his retirement Saturday night via Twitter.
Cheers. Been a hell of a journey. Eleven years and I can honestly say I put my soul into every minute of it. Highs and lows. I’ve seen them both and I appreciate the perspective. Gratitude and love to those who lifted me up. pic.twitter.com/Ap8zi73Ifl— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) May 19, 2019
And immediately came the wave of appreciation and support, from all of the places where he hung his hat. UVA fans, where he attended college and was drafted as the second overall pick. St. Louis Rams fans, where he spent eight years, the largest chunk of his professional career. New England Patriots fans, where, after being released by the Rams, he was signed to a one-year ‘prove-it’ deal and was a key component to helping them win the Super Bowl. And Philadelphia Fans, where he spent the past two seasons, during the first of which he helped the Eagles win a Super Bowl over his former team, The Patriots.
Wahoo fans: He’s one of my favorite players of all time.
Rams fans: He’s one of my favorite players of all time.
Patriots fans: He’s one of my favorite players of all time.
Eagles fans: He’s one of my favorite players of all time.
That’s what they all have in common. They, we, anyone who has watched Chris Long play or was lucky enough to have had him on a team they root for absolutely adores the guy. Even people on opposing teams love Chris Long.
Why? He was drafted second overall on expectations that he would be the second coming of his Pro Football Hall of Fame father, Howie Long. He never quite reached that lofty bar on the field, and in many ways, he was seen as a draft bust.
Honestly, the second pick in the draft has to be an immediate game changer. Though he had an amazing motor, never quit on a play, and only missed a total of 14 games over an eleven-year career, he was never truly regarded as the type of player who was considered a singular, dominant force. To wit, he never made a single pro bowl or earned an all-pro designation.
Viewed exclusively in that light, it would be easy to view his career as a bit of a letdown.
Except that he’s an amazing person. Straight up amazing.
He devoted so much of his personal time to causes. Everywhere he went he helped people. He has been a vocal critic of the anti-kneeling bigotry that swept the NFL and was among the first, if not the first white player to stand in solidarity with black teammates who raised a fist in protest.
He donated an entire year of his professional salary to charity, to help inner city schools.
He is charming and real. Witty and intelligent. The internet is littered with stories of people meeting him at bars or parties and him having shots with them and taking pictures and being a fucking legend.
Chris Long is a perfect example of an NFL player using their platform for good. Last year, in recognition of all of his charitable work, he was voted the 2018 Walter Payton Man of the Year, which recognizes a player for both his contributions on and off the field of play.
I love this man.
I love his parents, Diane and Howie, who raised such an amazing boy. I love his wife Meg, who works in partnership with Chris on every project he undertakes and gets none of the credit. I love the people who follow Chris on Twitter, who donate to his projects and who work to help people everywhere.
Chris Long has retired from the NFL, but it’s not a sad moment. He is a force of nature who will now have all of his time freed up to be the man he can be. Many of us will miss watching him give his all on the field of play, but are thrilled to see what more he can accomplish on the field of life.
Join me in congratulating Chris Long on an exemplary football career. Now his real work begins, and we can all help by giving the gift of water through his organization, Waterboys.
They are eight thousand dollars and change short of their 2019 goal. I just donated $30 to provide water access to one household. If you have the ability, please join me in supporting this worthwhile cause.
Chris Long. Father, husband, brother, son, friend. Cavalier, Ram, Patriot, Eagle.
Now get back out there, Chris, and keep making us proud.
Header Image Source: NFL