The St. Louis Rams Community Player of the Week presented by Ameren Missouri is defensive end
When the Rams made Long the second overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, he did not have the luxury of easing into a complementary role with the team. From Day One, he was counted upon as a key cog on defense, charged with getting to the opposing team’s quarterback and being a disruptive force on the defensive line. Now in his fifth season, Long is coming off a year in which he set a career-high with 13.5 sacks and firmly entrenched himself as a cornerstone of the defense.
Living up to the billing of a high draft pick is not an easy task, but Long has grown into a leader on the field. Earlier this summer, the Rams made a commitment to the former Virginia Cavalier when they signed him to a four-year contract extension. But Long also made a commitment, not only to the Rams, but the St. Louis community overall.
One of the most visible ways Long serves the community is through his role as spokesman for the American Red Cross. In this position, Long leads the way on initiatives such as the Holiday Mail for Heroes campaign. The program is a community-wide initiative that sends holiday cards and greetings to active military members serving overseas. Long is featured on a holiday greeting card that will be distributed throughout the community. Long and the Red Cross hope to send over 25,000 cards this holiday season in support of military service members.
Rams fans will also be able to join in the Holiday Mail for Heroes campaign on Sunday, November 18 when the team hosts the New York Jets. The Rams will be honoring members of the military during their annual Salute to Service game. Long’s holiday cards will be available for signing in sections 110, 138, 326, 353, 414, 440 as well as the Bud Light Party Zone throughout the game.
On Tuesday, November 27, Long will reprise his role as spokesman during the American Red Cross Blood Drive at the Richmond Heights Community Center. Throughout the day, Long will be offering support to donors and take part in a tailgate celebration during the drive.
In addition to his work with the American Red Cross, Long has helped the Rams with many of their programs. Earlier in the season, he joined over 25 of his teammates for the 17th annual Make-A-Wish Celebrity Server Night of Wishes. In exchange for autographs and pictures, Long collected tips from the supporters. With help from Long and the rest of the Rams, Make-A-Wish was able to raise over $225,000. That total is enough to fund the wishes of nearly 45 Wish Kids with terminal or life-threatening illnesses.
Long also is helping to co-chair the Rams annual turkey distribution event held in conjunction with the Urban League Metropolitan St. Louis. Through personal financial contributions from Rams players, including Long, the Rams hope to feed over 2,000 families in need, supplying them with a turkey and other food items for a complete Thanksgiving meal. Long will join his fellow defensive lineman on the day of the distribution in delivering meals to the homes of elderly and disabled people who cannot make it to the distribution sites.
For all his volunteer efforts, it should come as no surprise that Long is a member of the Rams’ All-Community Team. For each Rams home game, Long donates 20 tickets to various groups that benefit children. But the kids are not just treated to the Rams game. After each contest, Long takes time to meet all his guests, interacting with them in a more informal setting.
Not only has Long grown as a player in his time with the Rams, but also as a leader. Whether it is on the field or in the community, St. Louis has benefitted from Long’s continuous efforts.
“Chris has become a cornerstone member of our franchise and this community,” Molly Higgins, vice president of corporate communications and civic affairs, said. “We are particularly proud of his leadership role with the American Red Cross and his efforts to bring awareness and support to their important work, ranging from saving lives to recognizing our military’s sacrifices.”
About the Rams Community Player of the Week presented by Ameren Missouri
Each week during the 2012 season, the St. Louis Rams, along with team sponsor Ameren Missouri, will select a player who has made a positive impact on the Greater St. Louis community, giving of himself off the field. Each honored Rams Community Player of the Week will receive a gift certificate to Ruth’s Chris Steak House, the Official Steak House of the St. Louis Rams.
Tell us how you power positive change in the community for the chance to win Rams tickets and official merchandise, by going to www.Facebook.com/AmerenMissouri.