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Volume 26 No. 49
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Social Studies: Eagles DE Chris Long On Charitable Causes, Advice For Rookies

Eagles DE Chris Long (@Joel9One) has made big news this season with his charitable efforts, and has been using social media to spread the word and asked fans to contribute to the cause. Long announced last month he would donate his first six game checks to fund scholarships in his hometown of Charlottesville, Va. Then last week, Long expanded his that effort with the announcement he would donate his remaining 10 game checks to organizations committed to balancing educational inequity. His Pledge 10 For Tomorrow campaign will raise money benefiting the three markets he has played in -- St. Louis, Boston and Philadelphia. Nearly a week in, the campaign has raised almost $200,000 from fans. Long said the response on social media has been largely positive. Long: "I’m very appreciative of that platform and a lot of the people who follow me on Twitter are a lot of the people who are going to make that commitment grow. I’m very thankful to have great fans in three markets that I’ve played in. These folks are able to affect a lot of change in those places and this is no different.”

Long last week also was one of several NFLers who met with league officials to discuss their concerns regarding societal issues and player protests. He did not want to discuss those proceedings with THE DAILY.

SOCIAL SNAPSHOT
Must-follow: Rob Delaney
Favorite app: Probably Instagram.
Average time per day on social media: Too much. I actually had an app that shows you how much time you spend on your phone and it was disturbing.

Importance of social media for hot-button topics:
Social media is a really good deal because it gives us all a unique platform that maybe athletes didn’t have in the past. Athletes have always had a big platform, but maybe their avenues to effect change have been limited. Here you have Twitter and Instagram and these mediums where people are saying they want more information on the players they cheer for on the field -- their personal lives, their charitable endeavors. It all depends on how you use it. I like to use social media to have fun. But if it wasn’t for social media, I would have made my donation quietly and it would stay the way it is. The goal is to have this donation matched, or even more. I’m confident we’ll be able to do that because of social media.

Social media helping athletes to "not stick to sports":
No doubt about it. That can be controversial because a lot of people want to know their athletes better -- until they express a belief that’s counter to their own. I always say you are free to follow whoever online. If you don’t like the content a player is giving, you can always unfollow them. There’s a really thin line between it being a really great tool and it being disruptive.

Benefits of social media for an athlete:
I hope fans feel that after years of interacting, they see players are normal people. You see your favorite player tweeting about whatever show they are watching, or they may have the same hobbies you do. If you are watching a baseball game, you may see your favorite player tweeting about that same game. That’s what brings fans and players together. The cool part is when you see athletes interacting with fans. There are a lot of people who I feel like I know, and I just know them from Twitter. It might be fans or media or other athletes. It’s this other world that brings people together who otherwise wouldn’t be together.

Athletes expressing concern about using social media:
I’ve had teammates or other athletes who are like, “Dude you are funny on Twitter,” or “How do you do it that way?How do you walk the line like that and express your beliefs without getting into any trouble?” You have to exercise common sense. If you don’t post anything that’s controversial in a really negative way, you’ll be OK. Beyond that --respect other people’s opinions, feel OK to argue and have open dialogue. It’s not going to be perfect. I’ve sent out tweets that I regret. At the same time, if I believe in something and am willing to type it out, then it's what I believe.

NFLers doing it right on social media:
A teammate like Malcolm Jenkins does it very well, because a lot of his content is going to be more serious. He is able to pursue a lot of his off-the-field interests when it comes to social justice and criminal justice reform. He’s written some op-eds and been able to retweet some really good content. Then you’ve got a guy like J.J. Watt, who obviously became inspirational in a social media kind of way after the hurricane in Houston. He was able to be the catalyst for over $30 million being raised. Guys who you might not have heard of like Tom Crabtree, who is a former player, is a funny guy in the Twitterworld. I’ve enjoyed Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall kind of trolling people over the concept that he is the other Brandon Marshall (of the NFL Giants).

Advice for rookies using social media:
I would tell them to remember every time they open that text box to remember they are standing in a room of potentially 10 million people, because that’s how quick your words might spread. You might have 3,000 followers, but if you tweet something that is incredibly stupid, there's a 24-hour news cycle and there aren’t always games on, so people need something to talk about. People always like to talk about stupid tweets.

BIG INTO CHARITABLE EFFORTS: Long talked about some of his charitable efforts on ESPN's "Monday Night Countdown" prior to last night's Redskins-Eagles game, saying the move to donate his game checks to increase educational equality is something he and his wife "have been involved with for a little while." He said, "With the current climate the way it is in America, I think we all hope for a better future. We’re all trying to improve our communities and our country. I think everybody would agree equality is a goal, and a great gateway to that is an education and educational opportunities, educational equity." He also touched on the Water Boys initiative, which he notes involved many football players "spreading awareness, educating people on the clean water crisis" in some third world countries. Long noted he has visited Tanzania and said, "Our mission was to initially put in 32 wells for 32 teams, and we are at 25 well funded, 20 or so installed." Long: "We've funded enough wells for 100,000 people to enjoy clean water."

If you know anyone who should be featured for their use of social media, send their name to us at jperez@sportsbusinessdaily.com