Riley Cooper’s NFL career may be over before it really ever got seriously started. And all because of something he said.
Cooper, a 2010 fifth-round draft choice out of Florida at wide receiver by the Philadelphia Eagles, had been in contention for the No. 2 wide receiver spot in Philadelphia after Jeremy Maclin went down with a season-ending injury.
Now, it seems, he is in contention for a one-way ticket out of Philly in light of a very stupid and vulgar comment that was captured on camera and released for the world to see and hear on YouTube.
Make no mistake, what Cooper said was wrong, cringe-worthy and deserving of condemnation.
At a Kenny Chesney concert, Cooper, in line to go backstage, looked straight at a camera being held by a black security guard and said “I will jump that fence and fight every (n-word) here, bro.”
There is no excuse for his comments. Unfortunately for him, Deadpsin picked it up and it went viral and it has taken Cooper on a quickly descending spiral and straight into a media maealstrom.
Quite appropriately, Cooper was made to look, at the very least foolish, and at the worst, racist.
Is he racist? Who knows. From the YouTube video he looks inebriated, if nothing else.
Once the video was posted, Cooper offered what appeared to be a hearfelt apology.
“My actions were inexcusable,” he said. “The more I think about what I did, the more disgusted I get. I keep trying to figure out how I could have said something so repulsive, and what I can do to make things better.”
The original comments were tough for his teammates to digest, but Michael Vick and Jason Avant forgave him. LeSean McCoy was a little less forgiving.
“Just on a friendship level, and as a person, I can’t really respect someone like that,” McCoy said according The Associated Press. “It think as a team we need to move past it. There are some things that are going to be hard to work with, to be honest.”
First-year Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said he was shocked by what he heard, saying it wasn’t “the Riley Cooper I know.”
Kelly also said this wasn’t something that was going to go away quickly. He certainly appears to be correct.
Immediately after Cooper’s comments came to light, he was fined and the Eagles announced he was going to be sent for “sensitivity training.”
That really should be the end of it. But for certain transgressions, apologies are no longer accepted and Cooper is not going to be allowed to simply move on, unless moving on includes out the door, as some media types would like to see.
Cooper was “excused” from all team activities by the Eagles on Friday as the media continued to pound away, using Cooper as fodder in countless radio and TV discussions. His removal may be a precursor toward being released.
Cooper is finding out a difficult truth. If you’re not a superstar, the chances of forgiveness decease according to your importance to the team (Cooper has ony 46 catches in three years). He also is finding out there is a signficant chorus of people not interested in contrition who will only be satsified once he has been completely destroyed and tossed aside (see Paula Deen) once they, filled with self-righteous indignation, have used his mistake to serve their own purposes.
Cooper’s remarks were vile and hurtful, but demonizing him and then casting him aside like refuse from a wreakage, doesn’t lift the level of discourse, it only further coarsens and divides. And there are no winners under such a scenario.
Ruthenberg is sports editor at the News & Eagle. Contact him at email@example.com.