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