CINCINNATI - Eagles defensive end Chris Long beat out Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton for a prestigious community service award Thursday.
NFL players chose Long for the Byron “Whizzer” White Award over four other finalists including former 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick, Texans DE J.J. Watt, and Broncos LB Von Miller.
The award has been given annually by the NFL Players Association since 1967 in the name of the former U.S. Supreme Court justice and NFL star.
Long, who will be playing in the Super Bowl Sunday, donated his entire 2017 base salary - $1 million - to fund educational initiatives in hopes of enlightening youth about equality and social justice, according to an NFLPA release.
Long receives a $100,000 donation for his foundation or charity of choice. The other finalists get to designate a $10,000 donation from the NFLPA.
Proud to be named a finalist for the 2018 @NFLPA Byron "Whizzer" White Community MVP award. All of this season's nominees are doing great work in their communities! Learn more about the work of @ajdfoundation at https://t.co/k8P2GpMrU4!— Andy Dalton (@andydalton14) January 24, 2018
Although Kaepernick did not play in 2017 – he said NFL teams blacklisted him for sitting or kneeling during the The Star-Spangled Banner in 2016 – he was eligible for the award under the rules. Candidates must be a dues-paying member of the NFLPA and either on a current NFL roster or actively seeking employment as a free agent, according to an NFLPA release.
Kaepernick donated $1 million to organizations working in underserved communities last year.
Dalton and his wife provide financial assistance to families of seriously ill and physically challenged children through the Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation.
When Houston was devastated by Hurricane Harvey in August, Watt started a social media campaign that generated more than $37 million in disaster relief.
Miller has struggled with near-sightedness and donated 2,013 eyeglass frames to Denver youngsters through the Anchor Center for Blind Children and his Von's Vision Foundation.
The winner was chosen in a vote of NFL players, according to an NFLPA spokesperson. All players had the opportunity to vote through a ballot sent to them electronically.
The finalists were chosen from 18 players selected during the season – one each week – as Community MVP. Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap was one of the weekly winners.
Finalists were picked by Charlie Batch (former NFL player and 2013 Whizzer White award winner), Mike Jones (NFL writer for USA Today), Kelly Love (VP of Corporate Strategy and Business Development at Delta Private Jets) and Marc Pollick (president and founder of The Giving Back Fund).
White was an NFL running back for three years (1938, 40-41) for the Steelers and Lions. He led the league in rushing in his first two seasons and was first-team All-Pro twice before joining the Navy during WWI. He was stationed in the Pacific and won two Bronze Stars.
White went to Yale Law School and became a Rhodes Scholar. He served on the Supreme Court from 1962 to 1993 and died in 2002.
Two Bengals have won the Byron "Whizzer" White Award – K Doug Pelfrey in 2000 and LB Reggie Williams in 1985. A Cincinnati native, Cowboys QB Roger Staubach, won the award in 1979, and Middletown native Cris Carter won it when he was a Vikings WR in 1999.
GET more information on the award at www.nflpa.com/community-mvp.