When players get involved in off-field causes, as a number of NFL players did this season, questions are always raised about whether that involvement constitutes a distraction from their jobs on the field. Eagles defensive end Chris Long thinks he and his teammates have proven this year that such distractions should not be a concern.
Long said on an NFL conference call about players’ involvement in social justice work that he and teammates including Malcolm Jenkins have shown that they can become very involved in political and social causes while still playing well enough to get to the Super Bowl.
“Somebody asked me, Does this prove you can worry about your off-field engagements and effectively do your job on the field?” Long said. “I think it’s a great example of how players can manage time so well. I mentioned after a Monday night game, we hopped on a train in the early morning to go to Harrisburg.”
Long noted that players have always had off-field priorities, and that questions about distractions tend only to be raised when those priorities are controversial.
“Players are really good at doing that stuff. They’re great at time management and we can effectively still do our jobs. For years and years players have been involved in stuff off the field, whether that’s toy drives at Christmas, turkey drives at Thanksgiving,” Long said. “Nobody seemed to ask any questions about those things. That’s part of giving back to your community. Well, this is a way of giving back to your community.”
Despite the sometimes contentious nature of players’ political activities this season, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters today that the league supports those activities and hopes that the social justice work players have done this season is just the beginning.