As their hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, reels from a weekend beset by violence stemming from a series of white supremacist rallies, NFL players Chris and Kyle Long said the community will emerge stronger.
"Coming from Charlottesville, it's a quiet town. The loudest it gets is on Saturdays at [University of Virginia's] Scott Stadium. I'd say it was shocking to see that, but, you know, there are bad things that happen all the time and, like I said, prayers to those who are involved," said Kyle Long, an offensive guard with the Chicago Bears.
"Hopefully we can continue to do the right thing as a whole. Obviously there's going to be people that don't follow the same suit. Don't be those folks."
Neo-Nazis, skinheads, Ku Klux Klan members and other white supremacist groups staged a rally Friday to protest the city of Charlottesville's plans to remove a Robert E. Lee statue from a park. On Saturday, a 20-year-old man drove his car through a crowd of counter-protesters, killing a woman and wounding at least 19 others. Hours later, two Virginia state troopers were killed when the helicopter they were flying in as part of a large-scale police effort at the rally crashed into a wooded area outside the city.
Chris Long earned All-American honors at Virginia and had his number retired by the Cavaliers. Now with the Philadelphia Eagles, he tweeted his disgust on Saturday for the white supremacist marches.
At Eagles camp on Sunday, he further explained that the protesters don't represent the values of his hometown and called their actions "despicable."
"I haven't seen statistics, but I'd be willing to bet the vast majority of people voicing those white supremacist sentiments were from out of town. The majority of the people that were defending our hometown against ideals like that were from Charlottesville, or students. It's disheartening, but I really think it's desperation for those folks to feel threatened by us doing the right thing," he said.
Kyle Long also echoed his brother's sentiment that their hometown should not be associated with the those participating in the hate rallies.
"Obviously, people ask, 'You're from Charlottesville?' It kind of leaves a bad taste in their mouths thinking that one of their guys is from Charlottesville, where they see all these rallies and stuff happening. Like I said, don't let a few bad apples ruin what is really true about Charlottesville and that area -- there's good folks there," he said.
Houston Texans kicker Nick Novak, who also is from Charlottesville, said Monday that what is taking place there is "the devil's work."
"I just think it's terrible. It's not how I was raised. It makes me emotional to talk about, but I pray for those guys, the people that were injured," he said.
Other professional athletes expressed their dismay over the violence in Charlottesville.? Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James?said the situation was "sad" and took a swipe Saturday on Twitter at President Donald Trump, who came under bipartisan scolding for not clearly condemning the hate groups immediately after the altercations.
Washington Nationals pitchers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Zimmerman, who both played college baseball at Virginia, said the incidents shouldn't reflect on the people of the university or the town.
"I hope people not from this area of the country understand that the people that were marching in and around [the university] and Charlottesville, they're not from there," Doolittle said Sunday. "These aren't people that represent the school or the community. This was a rally where people came from other parts of the state, other parts of the region. Because that area, that town, is an incredibly accepting and diverse and embracing community."
Zimmerman said: "It is not reflective of the city or the people there. But as far as the stuff, I don't really want to get into all that kind of stuff, but it's sad. You hope that at some point we can kind of move on from these kind of things, but you don't know."
ESPN's Jeff Dickerson, Tim McManus, Sarah Barshop and The Associated Press contributed to this report.