BOURBONNAIS — Kyle Long noticed how his teammates reacted this weekend when they learned where he was raised.
“It kinda leaves a bad taste in their mouths thinking that one of their guys is from Charlottesville,” Long said, “where they see all these rallies and stuff happening. “
It hurts Long, too. His hometown under siege, the Bears guard defended Charlottesville, Virginia, on Sunday, offering his condolences for lives lost during a weekend thrown into chaos by a white nationalist rally.
Saturday, one person was killed and 19 were injured when a car sped into a throng of counter-protestors who were opposed to the “Unite the Right” rally. Two state troopers were later killed in helicopter crash Saturday night.
Images spread throughout the world of torch-wielding white supremacists marching through Charlottesville, targeted because of the college town’s plan to remove a statue of confederate general Robert E. Lee.
“Regardless of where it’s happening, injustice in the world we live in, in any place, is injustice to humanity,” the Bears guard said after Sunday’s training camp practice, the last one open to the public. “And it’s a threat to the freedoms we have.
“Obviously, it’s a small percentage of people involved who are blatantly in the wrong, and we need to do our best as good folks and continue to outnumber and express our opinions and act accordingly when given the opportunity to.”
Long’s parents — his dad Howie is a Pro Football Hall of Famer-turned-Fox Sports analyst, and his mom Diane was a lawyer — moved their three boys from California to the Charlottesville area when Kyle was 5. He later starred at St. Anne’s-Belfield School.
He keeps Charlottesville close to his heart.
“Hopefully we can continue to do the right thing as a whole,” Long said. “Obviously there’s gonna be people that don’t follow the same suit. Don’t be those folks.”
His brother Chris attended at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and was selected No. 2 overall by the Rams in 2008. Chris Long was outspoken about the riots Saturday, calling the situation “insanely frustrating” on Twitter.
“Evolution will favor the self assured … not man babies with tiki torches or people playing ‘militia,’” Chris Long wrote.
“Chris does a really good job articulating his views, be it politically, socially, economically,” Long said. “I try to stay out of the stuff, but the one thing I can say is that Charlottesville and the families affected are definitely in our thoughts and prayers.”
Long said he spoke with Chris, who now plays for the Eagles, and determined that everyone in their family was safe back home.
“Coming from Charlottesville, it’s a quiet town,” Long said. “The loudest it gets is on Saturdays at Scott Stadium (at University of Virginia). I’d say it was shocking to see that, but, you know, there’s bad things that happen all the time and, like I said, prayers to those who are involved.”
Long stressed that the protests don’t reflect Charlottesville, or most of those who grew up there.
“Don’t let a few bad apples ruin what is really true about Charlottesville and that area — there’s good folks there,” he said. “I grew up with really good people. I got buddies are in the police department. I got a lot of family and friends out there.
“It’s rough. It’s a strange time. Like I said, the more we can do right to each other and act accordingly when presented with the situation, then the better off we’ll be.”