Chris Long has heard the suggestions, after he tweeted out his criticisms of the weekend’s protests in Virginia and of President Donald Trump.
But he’s not sticking to sports.
The Eagles defensive end and longtime resident of Charlottesville, Va., decried what was happening there, and the leaders whom he believes aren’t doing enough to stop it.
“Some people are tired of hearing me tweet because they want me to stick to football but I like to use social media like I was a regular guy because I think I am,” Long said, via Dave Zangaro of CSNPhilly.com. “I don’t tell people to stick to their job when they want to talk politics. And this isn’t political. That’s the thing. Everybody is trying to turn this political. This isn’t a political issue. This is right or wrong.
“I believe you’re on one side or the other. For me, being from Charlottesville, no one wants to see you sit idly by and watch that stuff happen and not say anything. And I wish there was more categorical denial from some very important people in this country who have had the opportunity to strike it down but didn’t.”
Long was referring to Trump’s statement condemning “violence on many sides” after white nationalist protests turned angry (or angrier than they began), and an anti-racism protester was killed when a man drove his car into a crowd.
The issue was personal for Long because he grew up in Charlottesville, going to high school there before his career at the University of Virginia. So it pained him to see the problems in the streets he knew, and the divisions that led to them.
Long said one of the things he appreciates most about football is that the locker room environment forces people of different backgrounds together, creating a microcosm of society that allows its participants to see and meet and get to know people who aren’t like them.
“I wish everybody would have a chance to be on a team,” Long said. “I really do believe, it might be cliché, but we come from a lot of different walks of life and backgrounds and I’ve played with a lot of guys I probably would have never met in other walks of life. We sit here in a bubble in a really positive way. I wish the rest of the world could be on a team. I know that sounds kind of cliché but we get to really be exposed to each other’s different cultures, different ways of life and the way we look at different things. And I think that’s the really cool thing about being on a team.”
But as long as societal issues are treated like sports — when one team feels compelled to obliterate the other — the unfortunate truth is that Long’s going to have much more to talk and tweet about.