By Peter Gleason
The Eagles sure miss Chris Long’s edge-rushing on the field.
But he is making sure that he is doing his part off the field now that he has retired from his 11-year career.
Long, who had been critical of the NFL through much of his career for the way it handled players who protested social inequality during the pre-game playing of the national anthem, said he remains “very skeptical” of the league in light of a partnership the NFL announced in August with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation to curate entertainment for the league’s tentpole events. As part of the partnership, the league and Roc Nation have vowed to funnel resources back into communities in need.
“I’m very skeptical of that partnership and I’m also just generally skeptical of the league and how they handle that stuff because they have been pretty sloppy,” Long told USA TODAY yesterday. “Again, they’re a business and the only good thing the NFL has going for it from that standpoint is, right now, the league that was occupying a moral high ground (NBA), relatively speaking, is looking kind of suspect.
“I think in general I’m very skeptical of anything the (NFL) does from that standpoint. I think it’s a player responsibility to push them on that stuff and there’s a thin line between working with them and working for them on stuff. I think we just all have to remember that.”
Long, who played in the league 11 seasons with the Rams, Patriots and Eagles, became one of the most outspoken players in the league late in his career, joining his teammates to champion causes various causes. Long donated his entire 2017 base salary to charities that support educational equality.
“I think the NFL, the onus began to fall on them when the Kaepernick thing came up,” Long said. “If you’re not going to employ somebody for speaking out on that stuff, then people are going to want you to rectify that situation. Number one, give them a job. Number two, most of your players came from neighborhoods where this stuff affects them. So I think there is some responsibility there.
“At the same time, I’m not naive in thinking the NFL can solve the world’s problems. It’s just like the NBA: every global crisis isn’t the NBA’s problem, but when you do business with China, you can’t expect people not to look at you. Especially with the standard we’ve set for expectations of corporations and major sports.”
“I don’t think it’s unfair to ask [LeBron James] his opinion at all,” Long said. “I think he set a precedent where he is going to weigh in on issues, and I know that this issue isn’t central to his community, but I know LeBron’s a smart guy. He’s not going to be surprised that people want to know his opinion on that.
“Now, there’s been a lot of back and forth on what he meant the other day. I do understand from a standpoint of as players are over there, they have to feel safe. If you’re getting on a flight and you’re landing in China and you have no idea that Morey’s going to tweet that, that’s an issue. But at the same time, Morey has every right to speak out just as players do. And we fought for players’ rights to speak on issues that are important to them.”