Chris Long: Wins 2nd Straight Super Bowl, Climbs Mt. Kilimanjaro to Bring Attention to East Africa’s Water Crisis

Many a Super Bowl MVP, starting with New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms back in 1987, have, in the moments after winning the award, answered the question “What’s Next” by proclaiming “I’m going to Disney World!” Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long did not win the MVP of Super Bowl LII (backup QB turned hero Nick Foles did) but, if he was asked the “What’s Next” question, his answer would’ve been “Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to draw attention to the East Africa water crisis.” 

 

Chris Long is having quite a last 13 months, on and off the field. Let’s review:

  • February 2017: Earned his first Super Bowl ring, playing a key role as a defensive end for the New England Patriots in their epic comeback from a 28-3 deficit to win Super Bowl LI, 34-28 over the Atlanta Falcons.
  • March 2017: Long and a group of 11 hearty souls, including retired NFL players, took Long’s “Conquering Kili Challenge,” climbing 19,000 foot Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania as part of his Waterboys.org initiative. As detailed in a May, 2017 GreenSportsBlog post, Waterboys 1) raises awareness of the fresh water crisis in East Africa, 2) funds the digging of wells in the area — 32 to date — one for each NFL team — and 3) teaches the locals how to do the digging and maintaining. This was Long’s second ascent of Kilimanjaro

 

Video highlights of 2017’s “Conquering Kili Challenge”

 

  • March 2017: Signed an effective two year, $4.5 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles, citing the Cheesesteaks’ scheme as being a better fit for his skill set.
  • October 2017: Donated his entire 2017 base salary of $1 million to benefit educational charities in the three cities in which he’s played during his 10-year NFL career — St. Louis (formerly the home of the Rams), Boston, Philadelphia — as well as to fund scholarships to a private middle and high school in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. “In my 10th year, I want to celebrate the awesome opportunity I’ve had to play football by giving back to the communities that have given me that gift,” Long said in a statement. “Educational opportunity and equity are the best gateway to a better tomorrow for everyone in America.”
  • December 2017: Strongly shut down critics of then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to protest police violence against people of color by taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem in 2016. Here is one of Long’s several December 22 tweets on the subject: “ZERO interest in being used as the anti-Colin. I support Colin’s right to protest, and what he’s protesting. He deserves a job in the NFL. He’s donated as much $ as I have to social causes.” The 49ers chose to part ways from Kaepernick, 30, after the 2016 season and none of the remaining 31 NFL teams chose to offer him a contract. Kaepernick sued the NFL and its owners for collusion — that suit is still pending.
  • February 2018: Wins his second consecutive Super Bowl ring, helping the Philadelphia Eagles hoist the Lombardi Trophy for the first time in team history. In case you’ve been under a rock the past month, the Eagles defeated his former team, the Patriots, 41-33, in what became instant classic.

 

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Chris Long, after winning Super Bowl LII with the Philadelphia Eagles (Photo credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

 

  • February 2018: Three weeks after winning Super Bowl LII, Long and his climbing mates “Conquer Kili” again!

 

This time around, Long and trip co-skipper, former U.S. Army Green Beret Nate Boyer, led a team of 12 — plus video crew — on the climb. Rams linebacker and eco-athlete Connor Barwin became the first active NFLer other than Long to take part. While he was with the Eagles, Barwin, a supporter of Waterboys for the past two seasons, rode his bike and/or took mass transit to work and helped install solar panels on roofs in South Jersey. And, in another “Conquering Kili” first, a professional athlete from a sport other than football joined the group: Professional MMA fighter Justin Wren is a long time advocate for clean water through his work with the Mbuti Pygmies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

As far as Long is concerned, I cannot wrap my head around the idea that he could climb Kilimanjaro almost immediately after two grueling, physically punishing Super Bowl runs.

As the University of Virginia alum explained to SI.com’s Peter King on February 14, “I spend time outside. I hike, I trek, I climb. Doing it halfway around the world for eight days is different. But the toughest part is the altitude. Lots of people make it. But even the fittest guys struggle. Last year, we had a vet, an ultra-marathoner, totally bad-ass guy, who had to turn around. Altitude didn’t agree with him.”

But, somehow, Long was able to summit. Again, from his Valentine’s Day chat with Peter King: “You start in a rainforest, move into the high desert, and on the sixth day, you’re summitting, and you’re on a glacier, and you’re on top of Africa. It’s quite amazing.”

What is even more amazing is Long’s ability to generate real results for Tanzanians through his consistent commitment and generosity of spirit.

Results: The 2018 “Conquering Kili” class set a Kilimanjaro-level fundraising goal of $150,000 to support the climb and to construct clean water wells. As of February 13, the class had raised $68,000. The projects funded this year add to the four wells that have already been constructed through the “Conquering Kili” by previous classes.

Consistent Commitment: Long, again talking to SI.com’s King: “The awareness for our cause, clean water in east Africa … this is our best platform. The world water crisis is huge, and it means so much to me that we’ve been able to raise enough money to build 32 wells [through Waterboys; several other wells have been built through “Conquering Kili”] in such desperate areas.”

Generosity of Spirit: Once more, as part of the Long-King chat: “It’s a cool opportunity to involve all of my passions—my foundation, my life, helping active and retired NFL dudes, and then our military. They have a need, a void, for service. Some vets want to get involved in a cause bigger than selves. And this is such a great cause.”

 

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Long and his 2018 “Conquering Kili” team at the summit of Kilimanjaro (Photo credit: Chris Long/Instagram)

 

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Chris Long wears the ubiquitous (at least in the Philadelphia area) dog mask — it symbolizes the Eagles’ underdog status throughout its playoff/Super Bowl run — at the Kilimanjaro summit (Photo credit: Chris Long/Instagram)

 


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Super Bowl LII Champion Eagles Have Been Green-Sports Leaders for More than a Decade

The first-time Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles have long been Green-Sports trail blazers. As the City of Brotherly Love gets ready for Thursday’s parade (please stay off the hotel awnings and street light poles, Iggles fans!), GreenSportsBlog is happy to play some of the Eagles’ Greatest Green-Sports Hits.

 

IT ALL STARTED WITH…TOILET PAPER?

As Green Sports Alliance co-founder Dr. Allen Hershkowitz likes to tell it, the impetus for the Eagles’ commitment to sustainability  — and, for that matter, the beginning of the broader sports-greening movement — can be traced back to 2004 and…

…toilet paper?

The second paragraph of “This May Be the Most Radical Idea in All of Professional Sports,” Ian Gordon’s spot-on profile of Hershkowitz in the July/August 2015 issue of Mother Jonescaptures the essence of the story:

“Back in 2004, the Philadelphia Eagles had recently moved into a brand new stadium, Lincoln Financial Field, and wanted to become more environmentally responsible. The team reached out to [Hershkowitz] to talk about paper, one of his areas of expertise. It wasn’t exactly exciting stuff, but Hershkowitz, then a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) with a track record of taking on ambitious projects, had done his homework: The Eagles’ TP supplier was Kimberly-Clark, which was getting wood pulp from forests in the southern Appalachians that were home to, you guessed it, real-life eagles. ‘The people at the Eagles’ stadium were wiping their butts with eagle habitat,’ he recalls. ‘That’s what we call a branding liability.'”

Indeed.

 

CHRISTINA WEISS LURIE LEADS THE EAGLES GREENING EFFORTS

Why did the Eagles want to become more environmentally responsible?

Christina Weiss Lurie, a minority owner of the club since 1994, deserves much of the credit. She spearheaded the Eagles Go Green campaign, coinciding with the opening of “The Linc” in 2003. That groundbreaking initiative has seen the Eagles divert 99 percent of their waste from the landfill and generate 100 percent of their electricity from renewable energy.

 

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Christina Weiss Lurie, minority owner, Philadelphia Eagles. (Photo credit: Christina Weiss Lurie)

 

In a wide-ranging September 2013 GreenSportsBlog interview, Weiss Lurie shared…

…her inspirations for Go Green:

“In the late 90’s, as we planned what became Lincoln Financial Field, we looked for ways to make a positive statement to the community with the stadium.  And, while it was not designed with sustainability at the forefront, as time went on I started thinking about how we could operate more efficiently and with a smaller carbon footprint.  9/11 inspired us as well — with the idea that we had to do more to wean ourselves off of foreign sources of energy.  We asked the simple question: What can we do? And so, when the stadium opened in 2003 we started the Go Green campaign with something relatively simple–recycling–and things took off from there.”

…how her colleagues in Eagles management didn’t exactly embrace Go Green from the start:

“It was an uphill battle at the beginning, no doubt about it.  We are a business after all and so the costs of greening had to be taken into account at every step of the way. ‘[But] we just persevered!  And, at the same time, we empowered the team employees from top to bottom to take ownership of Go Green.  From the bottom up, we provided incentives for all employees to choose electricity supply from renewable sources for their homes by paying any premiums for green vs. “brown” power.  From the top down, I’ve been fortunate, over the years, to get buy in from our C-level on Go Green, especially our CFO at the time.  The net result of the bottom-up/top-down strategy has been astounding:  Our recycling rates have gone up from 8 percent in 2005 to 99 percent in 2012!”

…how a variety of forward-thinking companies partnered with the club to make Go Green a success:

“We’ve been very lucky with our vendors.  For example, SCA, a Swedish company that has its US headquarters in Philadelphia, is our paper vendor.  They provide us with 100% post consumer recycled paper. Aramark, our food concessionaire, initially was resistant to “greening” our food services operations (composting, organics, etc.) due to cost.  But ultimately they wanted to find solutions and now are bringing their green operations to other facilities!  Going the eco friendly route is a journey and can take time. NRG, our energy provider, built and financed our 11,000 panel solar array at Lincoln Financial Field.  Now we generate 30 percent of our electricity from the panels and also mini wind turbines.”

 

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Solar array, topped by Eagle talon-shaped wind turbines at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. (Photo credit: Lewis Blaustein)

 

GO GREEN DOES NOT REST ON ITS LAURELS 

While repeating as Super Bowl champs is super difficult — the 2004-2005 New England Patriots were the last team to turn that trick — the Eagles, through Go Green, have been consistent Green-Sports winners over the past a decade and a half. Last summer, GreenSportsBlog shared how the Eagles continued that trend through the installation of  Eco-Safe Digesters® at The Linc and their practice facility:

“The Philadelphia Eagles team[ed] up with environmental partner, Delaware-based Waste Masters Solutions (WMS), on the installation of a BioHiTech Global Eco-Safe Digester®, a food waste digester and data analytics platform at Lincoln Financial Field. The unit uses a proprietary bacteria formula to break down pre- and post-consumer food scraps via aerobic digestion and send them through sewer systems with no residual solids…This move builds upon the September 2016 installation of a waste digester at the team’s NovaCare Complex practice facility to help decompose pre-consumer food waste. Since then, more than nine tons of food waste has been decomposed and, thus, diverted from landfills.”

 

BioHiTech Eco-Safe

BioHiTech Global’s Eco-Safe Digesters will be installed Lincoln Financial Field, the home of the Philadelphia Eagles, and will be managed and maintained by Waste Master Solutions. (Photo credit: BioHiTech Global)

 

EAGLE ECO-ATHLETES; CHRIS LONG AND CONNOR BARWIN

The Eagles’ Go Green ethos has made its way to the locker room.

Defensive end Chris Long, who donated his entire 2017 salary of $1 million to educational charities, is also the co-founder of the nonprofit Waterboys. A January 2017 GreenSportsBlog story provides some of the inspiring particulars:

“[After Long’s season ends,] the former first round draft pick from the University of Virginia will turn a good chunk of his offseason attention to Waterboys, the nonprofit he founded to use his platform as a pro football player to affect change by bringing water to drought-ravaged Tanzania and other countries in East Africa…

…Long first visited Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Seeing the poverty and the challenging quality of life—due, in large part, to the water scarcity in the area—were his catalysts for action. That water deficit has reached crisis levels due to a massive prolonged drought that, according to climate scientists, is being exacerbated by climate change.

…Through Waterboys, Long, philanthropist Doug Pitt and a network of 23 current and former NFLers, including ex-Eagle (currently with the Los Angeles Rams) Connor Barwin, donate their own funds and, through social media, raise money from their fans to support the digging of wells by local workers in East Africa.”

 

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Eagles defensive end Chris Long, co-founder of Waterboys (Photo credit: WPVI-TV Philadelphia)

 

To date, 31 wells have been funded, with each serving 7,500 people at a cost of $45,000.

Speaking of Connor Barwin, while he was with Philadelphia, the popular linebacker became one of pro sports’ leading eco-athletes. He drove a Tesla, rode his bike to work and, as a volunteer, installed solar panels on the roofs of local homes.

 

GREEN X 2 IN SUPER BOWL LIII?

Given the Eagles Green-Sports leadership, rooting for them to get back to Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta next February is not a heavy lift for this GreenSportsBlogger. And how fitting would it be if, across the sideline, stood the New York Jets, aka Gang Green.

OK, to be completely transparent, the Gang Green moniker has nothing to do with sustainability — rather, it refers to the color of the Jets’ uniforms. But the club does play at MetLife Stadium, a green leader in its own right. And they are, for better and mostly worse, my favorite team. Of course they don’t really have a quarterback, but that’s a story for another day.

Still, I choose to dream big and green. And nothing would be bigger — or greener — than an Eagles-Jets Super Bowl.

But, for now, it’s the Eagles day. So Fly Eagles FLY!

 

 

 


 

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GSB News and Notes: NFLers Bring H2O to East Africa; Making Sneakers from CO2; Legendary Golf Club Publishes Sustainability Report

H2O and CO2. Today’s News & Notes centers on those life-sustaining and, in the case of the latter, climate change-contributing compounds. New England Patriots defensive lineman Chris Long is leading an effort to bring much-needed water to East Africa. NRG, one the largest energy producers (brown and green power) in the US, is looking at delving in the athletic shoe market with “Shoe Without a Footprint” made from—get this—CO2. And, San Francisco’s Olympic Club, host of five US Opens, recently became the first North American Golf Club to issue a sustainability report, with water a main focus. 

 

“WATERBOYS”: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS’ DEFENSIVE END CHRIS LONG ANOTHER NFL-ERS BRINGS WATER TO EAST AFRICA

Defensive End Chris Long, after playing the first eight years of his career with the largely mediocre-to-poor St. Louis (now Los Angeles) Rams, will taste the NFL playoffs for the first time with the New England Patriots on Saturday night. Whenever the Pats’ postseason run ends, the former first round draft pick from the University of Virginia will turn a good chunk of his offseason attention to Waterboys, the non-profit he founded to use his platform as a pro football player to affect change by bringing water to drought-ravaged Tanzania and other countries in East Africa.

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Chris Long, New England Patriots and founder of Waterboys. (Photo credit: New England Patriots)

 

Long first visited Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Seeing the poverty and the challenging quality of life—due, in large part, to the water scarcity in the area—were his catalysts for action. That water deficit has reached crisis levels due to a massive prolonged drought that, according to climate scientists, is being exacerbated by climate change.

Through Waterboys, Long, philanthropist Doug Pitt and a network of 23 current and former NFLers, including his brother Kyle (Chicago Bears), Super Bowl XLVIII-winning quarterback Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks) and eco-athlete Connor Barwin (Philadelphia Eagles)^, donate their own funds and, through social media, raise money from their fans to support the digging of wells by local workers in East Africa. To date, 14 wells have been funded (their initial goal is to fund 32, one for each of the NFL teams) with each serving 7,500 people at a cost of $45,000.

Chris Long shares the Waterboys story in this 2 minute 32 second video

 

If you are interested in supporting Waterboys, please click here.

 

MAKING SNEAKERS FROM CO2

 

What if I told you that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are not just the primary driver of climate change, but also a potential key ingredient for an almost infinite number of materials, fuels and products we use every day?

That is not the beginning of an ad for a new ESPN 30-for-30 sports documentary (which all begin with “What if I told you…?”).

Rather, it is the question posed by XPRIZE consultant Alisa Ferguson in “You’ll Never Guess How CO2 Can Save US,” a thought provoking December 13, 2016 piece in GreenBiz. She readily acknowledges that the technology to turn CO2 into, well, stuff, is in its very early days and may never scale. But then again, it may: Professor Michael Aresta of the University of Bari (Italy), confidently says humanity will be able to recycle up to 25 percent of emitted CO2 by 2036.

Ms. Ferguson offers several eyebrow-raising examples of Fortune 500 companies working on spent CO2-based products: Sprint began selling iPhone cases made from waste CO2 captured at farms and landfills, Ford plans to make car seats from foam and plastics derived from CO2 emissions. 

The one that raised my eyebrows the most was “Shoe Without a Footprint,” (SWF) a collaboration between NRG and new product development firm 10xBeta. GreenSportsBlog readers may recall that NRG is one of the largest producers of power in the US, both clean/green and dirty/brown and has installed solar arrays at six NFL stadia.

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First look at Shoe Without a Footprint from 10xBeta and NRG. (Photo credit: NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE)

 

The foam embedded in SWF is the brainchild of 10xBeta CEO and inventor Marcel Botha. CO2 emitted by power plants was captured and turned into a special polymer which made up approximately 75 percent of the final product. 

Now, don’t go to your nearest FootLocker, asking for a size 10 SWF just yet. Only five pair were created for entry into the Carbon XPrize contest, an NRG-sponsored competition aimed at finding innovative technologies that could turn carbon dioxide emissions into useful products. But Botha asserts that the technology is scalable.

 

THE OLYMPIC CLUB BECOMES FIRST US GOLF VENUE TO PUBLISH SUSTAINABILITY REPORT

San Francisco’s Olympic Club is one of the USA’s iconic golf clubs. Here are some key numbers that buttress that claim:

5: U.S. Opens hosted by the Olympic Club, most recently in 2012

33: The Olympic Club’s ranking on Golf Digest’s 2015 list of “America’s 100 Greatest Courses.”

1: The Olympic Club is the first club in North America to release a comprehensive Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report, demonstrating transparency in operations related to the environment, community, and economy – while exhibiting the aesthetics, performance, and playability of a top 100 course.

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The Olympic Club, San Francisco; the first golf club in North America to issue a sustainability report. (Photo credit: Golf Advisor)

 

Water management plays a key role in The Olympic Club’s sustainability efforts. The Olympic Club reports that recycled water accounts for 97 percent of water used at its golf course—as compared to an average of 25 percent for all golf courses in the United States, according to the Golf Course Superintendents Association)

Women-owned sustainability consulting firm IMPACT360 Sportswhich developed the sustainability report in collaboration with The Olympic Club, conducted stakeholder interviews, assessments, and surveys covering thousands of data points related to natural resources use, diversity, inclusion, and community engagement. This led to the development of The Olympic Club’s sustainability baselines and goals.

With a massive drought in golf-mad California and a growing need to engage the millennial market segment, there is a heightened focus on the environment and increasing diversity within the sport.

“The Olympic Club is elevating its commitment to the environment, diversity, and community within an industry that needs to embrace sustainability to grow the game,” said IMPACT360 Sports Co-Founder (and subject of a March 2015 GreenSportsBlog interview) Aubrey McCormick. “As a former professional golfer, I am particularly proud of The Olympic Club. Fans and future golfers are going to align with athletes and courses that share their values. CSR reporting and sustainability will be increasingly important.”

 

^ The rest of the Waterboys NFL roster includes Branden Albert (Miami Dolphins), Danny Amendola (New England Patriots), Anquan Boldin (Detroit Lions), Nate Boyer (former Green Beret and Seattle Seahawk), Sam Bradford (Minnesota Vikings), Dwayne Brown (Houston Texans), Calais Campbell (Arizona Cardinals), Brian Cushing (Houston Texans), Vontae Davis (Indianapolis Colts), D’Brickashaw Ferguson (retired, New York Jets), Chad Greenway (Minnesota Vikings), Tamba Hali (Kansas City Chiefs), Chris Harris (Denver Broncos), AJ Hawk (Cincinnati Bengals), Johnny Hekker (LA Rams), Fred Jackson (retired, Buffalo Bills), Charles Johnson (Carolina Panthers), TJ Lang (Green Bay Packers), Jim Laurinaitis (New Orleans Saints), Taylor Lewan (Tennessee Titans), Zach Martin (Dallas Cowboys), Eugene Monroe (Baltimore Ravens), Jared Odrick (Jacksonville Jaguars), Lawrence Timmons (Pittsburgh Steelers), Justin Tuck (retired, New York Giants and Oakland Raiders), and Delanie Walker (Tennessee Titans).

 

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