Former President Barack Obama jumped on Twitter on Friday to promote uplifting stories from 2017, including one involving Eagles defensive end Chris Long.
"For all the bad news that seemed to dominate our collective consciousness, there are countless stories from this year that remind us what's best about America," Obama wrote, before sharing a story written by my colleague Paul Domowitch about Long's decision to donate his entire 2017 salary to charity.
After white supremacists and neo-Nazis marched through his hometown of Charlottesville, Va., Long announced he would donate his first six game checks to fund a pair of seven-year scholarships to middle-school students in the city. Then, in October, Long pledged to donate his remaining 10 game checks to support educational equality in the three cities he's played for — Philadelphia, St. Louis and Boston.
"Chris Long gave his paychecks from the first six games of the NFL season to fund scholarships in Charlottesville, VA," Obama wrote on Twitter. "He wanted to do more, so he decided to give away an entire season's salary."
Long said he was flattered by the praise.
"It's different,'' he told Domowitch on Friday. "It's cool. It's an honor that that would fly across one of our former presidents' radar.
"That's the whole point of trying to do good things in the community: Spreading positivity. It's an honor to be mentioned.''
Long's base salary this season is $1 million. Over the course of his 10-year career, Domowitch estimates Long has made close to $100 million, affording him the opportunity to give back in a big way.
"I've been lucky. This isn't a heroic effort. I just really believe my platform is going to shrink from here on out," Long said in October. "If I'm not playing football in a couple of years and I do this, it's not going to have the same effect. It's evidenced by the fans that have gotten behind it and the money we're going to be able to raise.''
In addition to Long's story, Obama shared two other uplifting stories from 2017. One involved 10-year-old Jahkil Jackson, who is on a mission to help the homeless in his hometown of Chicago. The other was a story about how Houston wedding planner Kat Creech turned a wedding postponed due to Hurricane Harvey into a opportunity for the storm's victims.
"All across America people chose to get involved, get engaged and stand up. Each of us can make a difference, and all of us ought to try," Obama wrote. "So go keep changing the world in 2018."
Obama's tweets spotlighting positive stories came a few days after the former president, in an interview with Britain's Prince Harry, spoke about the dangers of using social media in a divisive manner.