Chris Long pledges a quarter of his salary to literacy fund

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Eagles defensive end Chris Long played for free last season, donating his entire salary to charity.

He’s continuing with his philanthropy this year, donating a quarter of his annual salary to a group putting books in the hands of underserved children.

Via Tim McManus of ESPN.com, Long will be donating around $400,000, joining with the United Way for Philadelphia’s Read By Fourth campaign. The goal is to distribute more than 25,000 books for children in needy neighborhoods and create reading centers.

“Kids don’t have a choice. Kids don’t pick their parents, they don’t pick their economic background, they don’t pick the neighborhood they grew up in, they don’t pick any of the factors that can hold them back, they don’t pick their school system,” Long said. “So [investing in them], it just feels like you’re doing something productive. . . . I just feel like this is something where you’re going to see results.”

Long is encouraging others to donate books by visiting FirstQuarterForLiteracy.org.

Last season, he donated his entire $1 million base salary to provide scholarships and to launch educational programs in his hometown of Charlottesville, Va., as well as the cities he played — St. Louis, Boston and Philadelphia.

“I just feel like when you tie in football, which people are crazy about, to a cause that maybe people aren’t as aware of, and use your platform to educate people on some of the dire needs we have, you get them excited and they give,” Long said. “That’s what happened last year, and hopefully it happens this year.”

He’s also promised to match donations up to $25,000 by players on teams the Eagles play against this year, for programs in their cities. Buccaneers defensive tackle Beau Allen, a former teammate, pledged $5,000 to start the process, meaning a $10,000 donation for books in the Tampa area.