The NFL just gave one of its highest honors to a prominent Trump critic

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One of the defining features of the Donald Trump presidency has been his incessant feud with the players of the National Football League and his exploitation of their activism to fuel the flames of racial tension in America.

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When black football players kneel for the anthem in protest of police brutality and the systemic racism that permeates every level of American society, the President publicly paints them as un-American and accuses them of “disrespecting” the military, using neofascist appeals to exclusionary nationalism to demonize them and delegitimize their movement.

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He’s even attempted to drive boycotts of the NFL and threatened to personally interfere in the league’s business in his desperate efforts to use petty culture war nonsense to distract the nation from whichever crises he’s dealing with at that particular moment.

Which makes it rather fitting that shadowy league figures decided to bestow upon one of President Trump’s most outspoken football-playing critics their highest honor, the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

Two-time Super Bowl champion defensive end Chris Long was given the award for his steadfast dedication to charity and making a difference in not just his community but those around the world as well.

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Last year, he donated his entire salary to charity, providing scholarships to students in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. His major project is the Waterboys foundation, which is focused on providing clean water to needy communities in East Africa and has so far successfully dug 32 wells and raised $3 million. Its overarching goal is to provide clean water to over a million people.

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Long received a torrent of criticism last September when he was one of the few white NFL players to publicly support Colin Kaepernick and other black players in their symbolic protest of the national anthem, and again when he refused to visit the White House after winning the Super Bowl.

When asked about his decision, he made it clear how he felt about Trump’s first year in office. “(When) my son grows up — and I believe the legacy of our president is going to be what it is — I don’t want him to say, ‘Hey Dad, why’d you go when you knew the right thing was to not go?'” Long said.

Long even got into a heated debate with former Trump advisor Boris Epshteyn on Twitter in which he slammed the president for refusing to condemn the white supremacist who murdered activist Heather Heyer and wounded 20 others during the “Unite The Right” hate rally in Charlottesville.

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Congratulations, Chris Long, for not only showing the world how one person with the means to do so can make an incredible difference in the lives of others but also taking a stand and doing the right thing in the face of enormous pressure to stay silent.

Original reporting by Jeremy Bergman at NFL.com.

Natalie Dickinson

Natalie is a staff writer for the Washington Press. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been freelance blogging and writing for progressive outlets ever since.

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