Manage episode 291758225 series 2649965
“Service doesn’t require a great platform or require you to be the sole author of a solution. It is a humble task. And the only requirement is a love of people.”
For Episode 39 of Glorious Professionals, Jason and Emily talk to Chris Long about the power and pressure of professional sports and using his platform in service to others. In an 11-year career in the NFL as a Defensive End, he was the 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year – considered by many to be one of the top honors in the NFL – for his charitable efforts. Chris has turned his transition to retirement life into a force-multiplying effort to give millions access to clean water through his foundation and it’s signature initiative Waterboys.
Despite coming from a football family (his dad is hall of famer Howie Long), Chris says he wasn’t initially good at sports and his parents hoped he would be knocked down enough to choose something else. Instead, Chris used his early challenges and his dad’s shadow as fuel to do “the repetition of hard work” required to excel. Chris was an All American Defensive End for the University of Virginia before being drafted as the second overall pick to the Rams in 2008. He speaks about dealing with the vastly more rock-bottom moments than highs in the NFL, especially in those early years. He also talks about the anger and conflict of the NFL and how his “life role model” mom Diane’s powerful example of fostering relationships and being thoughtful in service to others, along with his wife Megan, helped him deal with the spotlight and adversities of pro football in healthy ways.
Chris’ extra grind through challenging years paid off, culminating in winning two Super Bowl rings with the Patriots and the Eagles before retiring in 2019. Throughout, he has quietly contributed to the communities where he played.
After a trip in 2013 to climb Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, he and Megan began Waterboys and he formalized his giving into the Chris Long Foundation. Through efforts like Conquering Kili which joins NFL players and Veterans to summit Kilimanjaro, they have raised 1.3million dollars to build 24 solar-powered wells in Tanzania – with a goal to build 32, one for each team in the NFL.