Long is Ea­gles’ nom­i­nee for Wal­ter Pay­ton Man of the Year

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - SPORTS - By Bob Grotz [email protected]­tu­ry­media.com @BobGrotz on Twit­ter

PHILADEL­PHIA >> The list if full of Hall of Fame play­ers, soon to be Hall of Fame play­ers and guys who be­long in a hu­man­i­tar­ian hall of fame.

The Ea­gles’ nom­i­nee for the 2018 Wal­ter Pay­ton Man of the Year Award is 33-year-old Chris Long. With 4.5 sacks, se­cond on the team, he hasn’t lost a step on the field. And he’s got­ten pretty good off it. The Chris Long Foun­da­tion pro­motes lit­er­acy and im­pacts un­der-served youth and ed­u­ca­tional ini­tia­tives in schools.

“You look at the names of the other guys that got nom­i­nated or won, and it’s an honor,” Long said af­ter prac­tice Thurs­day. “It’s not why you do this stuff but it’s cool. And at the same time, it gives our foun­da­tion a lot of ex­po­sure to help us do more good.”

Long do­nated his en­tire 2017 salary, $1 mil­lion, to sup­port ed­u­ca­tional en­ter­prises. This year he sunk four game checks into en­hanc­ing that ven­ture and cre­at­ing six “Chris Long Book Nooks” serv­ing Philly neigh­bor­hoods. More than $140,000 has been raised and 35,000 books do­nated. The match­ing funds also are mul­ti­ply­ing daily. It helps to play in a big mar­ket.

A part of the recog­ni­tion is un­com­fort­able for Long, who’s also ac­tive in clean water ef­forts over­seas.

“It also feels weird be­cause you’re like, ‘I don’t think I’m that great of a guy. I screw up all the time,’” Long said. “There’s a lot of great men in this locker room and around the league so it’s hard to be nom­i­nated for some­thing like man of the year and think, ‘yeah, they did the right thing. But I’ll take it.’ I’m hum­bled by it. And it helps the foun­da­tion.”

Long hasn’t slowed down in this, his 10th NFL sea­son de­spite a more ex­pan­sive role due to the in­jury of de­fen­sive end Der­rick Bar­nett (shoul­der) and the ad­di­tion of vet­eran Michael Ben­nett, who leads the team with 6.5 sacks.

The Ea­gles (6-6) can take over the NFC East lead by tiebreak­ers with a win over the Cow­boys at AT&T Sta­dium Sun­day (5:15 p.m., Fox). A loss would al­most elim­i­nate the Ea­gles for the Cow­boys (7-5) are fa­vored by four points and de­feated the Birds a few weeks ago.

“This is where teams ei­ther take that next step and play their next foot­ball or not,” Long said. “We’ve played in a lot of big games around here lately, and that’s the goal. That’s part of win­ning, is a lot of peo­ple are go­ing to be pay­ing at­ten­tion to you and there’s more pres­sure on you. And I think that helps in sit­u­a­tions like this. It’s go­ing to be a big-time at­mos­phere. There’s a lot rid­ing on it and I feel like most guys in this locker room have been in sit­u­a­tions like this be­fore as a re­sult of ev­ery­thing we’ve done. So, it helps that way.

“But at the end of the day Sun­day is about Sun­day and who­ever plays their best game. It doesn’t mat­ter what’s hap­pened this year.”

Troy Vin­cent (2002) and Harold Carmichael (1980) are the only Ea­gles to win the Wal­ter Pay­ton award, which goes to an NFL player for out­stand­ing com­mu­nity ser­vice ac­tiv­i­ties off the field, as well as ex­cel­lence on the field.

•••

The list of Ea­gles who didn’t prac­tice Thurs­day is Ben­nett (foot), line­backer Jor­dan Hicks (calf), de­fen­sive tackle Timmy Jerni­gan (back), of­fen­sive tackle Ja­son Peters (an­kle, knee) and de­fen­sive backs Avonte Mad­dox (an­kle, knee) and Jalen Mills (foot).

Run­ning back Josh Adams (shoul­der) was up­graded to a full prac­tice.

•••

For the Cow­boys, held out of prac­tice Thurs­day were wide re­ceiver Tavon Austin (groin), de­fen­sive line­man David Irv­ing (an­kle), line­backer Sean Lee (ham­string) and tight end Ge­off Swaim (wrist).

Lim­ited were Ty­ron Smith (neck) and guard Xavier Su’a-Filo (thumb).

Wide re­ceiver Cole Beasley (foot), cor­ner­back Chi­dobe Awuzie (ill­ness) were up­graded to full prac­tices.

•••

NOTES >> The Ea­gles have beaten the Cow­boys in four of the last five games at AT&T Sta­dium, in­clud­ing a 37-9 de­ci­sion last year in which Kamu Grugier-Hill, who called them chok­ers, kicked off when Jake El­liott sus­tained a con­cus­sion … Dak Prescott hasn’t thrown an in­ter­cep­tion dur­ing the Cow­boys’ fourgame win streak, and has com­pleted 74 per­cent of his passes. Prescott is 26-5 record (.839) when throw­ing zero in­ter­cep­tions, trail­ing only Tom Brady (21-4, .840) from 2016 through now, per STATS LLC.

PATRICK SEMANSKY — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Philadel­phia Ea­gles’ Chris Long cel­e­brates with his fam­ily af­ter the NFL foot­ball NFC cham­pi­onship game against the Min­nesota Vik­ings Sun­day, Jan. 21, 2018, in Philadel­phia.

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