Sportress of Blogitude

Chris Long explains motivation behind playing 2017 season for free

Chris Long made well-earned headlines this week when announcing he will use his final 10 game checks to launch a new charity. Given the gesture follows how the Philadelphia Eagles defensive end already had donated his first six game checks to fund scholarships in his native Charlottesville, Va., it means Long is playing the entire 2017 NFL season for free.

And Long couldn’t be happier to do it.

“I always thought maybe it would be cool to play for free,’’ Long told Philly.com. “I did. I thought it would be a personal test to see if I’m really the guy I’d like to be.’’

Long signed a two-year, $4.5 million deal with the Eagles this past offseason, a contract that came with a $500,000 signing bonus and $1.5 million in guaranteed money. Now in his 10th NFL season, Long, 32, has made upwards of $100 million, which he uses to lend perspective to playing for free this season.

“I’m lucky,’’ Long said. “I’ve been lucky. This isn’t a heroic effort. I just really believe my platform is going to shrink from here on out.

“If I’m not playing football in a couple of years and I do this, it’s not going to have the same effect. It’s evidenced by the fans that have gotten behind it and the money we’re going to be able to raise.’’

Long’s final 10 game checks will help launch Pledge 10 for Tomorrow, “a campaign that will promote educational equity and opportunity for underserved youth in the three NFL cities he’s played in – Philadelphia, Boston, and St. Louis,” per the report.

“For my wife [Diane] and I, educational equity and opportunity has been a big deal for a while now,’’ he said. “Being involved in the boys and girls clubs and scholarships in my hometown [Charlottesville].

“But I always felt I wanted to do something on a little bit larger scale. So we decided to focus on groups in the three cities I’ve played in, that would have an effect on more than a few kids.’’