Eagles Should Part Ways With Riley Cooper

Riley Cooper issued an apology immediately following the release of a video showing his usage of a racial slur.

Riley Cooper issued an apology immediately following the release of a video showing his usage of a racial slur.

The last week has been a daunting one for Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper. On Wednesday, video surfaced of Cooper attending a Kenny Chesney concert at Lincoln Financial Field in which he used the N-word in an aggressive manner toward an African-American Lincoln Financial Field security guard.

Since the video release via CrossingBroad, Cooper’s life has completely changed.

After numerous statements and apologies, Cooper was excused from team activities last Friday and has not been with the team since. He is seeking professional help and the team has stated that no timetable for his return has been set.

When and if Cooper returns is what everyone is looking out for. The Eagles would serve themselves, the players and the fans well to let Cooper go.

As an African-American, I was naturally offended by what I saw in the video. However, my initial reaction was that the incident was not a big deal. Cooper is not the face of the Eagles and I figured a slap on the wrist and an apology would suffice. As someone who has been around sports since I was seven years old, both observing and competing, I’ve heard a ton of individuals use that word, both black and white. Societal norms are sometimes different in the realm of sports.

Cooper's teammate, LeSean McCoy, admitted that he cannot look at Cooper the same way.

Cooper’s teammate, LeSean McCoy, admitted that he cannot look at Cooper the same way.

After watching the video, my sentiment changed.

First of all, this was not a sports moment. This was a concert. I had also assumed before seeing the video that perhaps it was a rap concert and that the word usage was within the context of a song, but clearly that was not the case.

Cooper used the word with extreme anger and ill-will.

I credit the Philadelphia Eagles for acting quickly in the matter, but I feel as those their quick action hurt their better judgement. Immediately following the video release, the team fined Cooper an undisclosed amount. However, the team should have perhaps thought about excusing Cooper immediately to buy sometime for more thought into what his punishment should have been.

Cooper’s teammates, including running back LeSean McCoy, have not all been so quick to forgive and forget what their teammate said. If this incident is going to cause division in the locker room, it is something that Chip Kelly does not need.

The Cooper incident has become a huge distraction for new Head Coach Chip Kelly.

The Cooper incident has become a huge distraction for new Head Coach Chip Kelly.

As soon as news broke on Friday that the Eagles were excusing Cooper from team activities, my initial reaction was that it was a strategy to setup Cooper’s release. By excusing him, Cooper is missing vital practice time and the team can now use the excuse that he is behind the curve and that it is in the team’s best interest.

At the end of the day, when it comes to professional sports, it is all about performance. If Cooper was a receiver capable of having 1,000 yard seasons and who was catching double-digit touchdowns, then there would be a plan put in place to make it work. We all know that is not the case.

Honestly, Cooper is not worth the distraction he has been since the video came out. While I agree with the decision the excuse Cooper, it just means that his return will cause another media circus and the conversation will have to be had then. Then, when he makes his first catch of the regular season, expect TV outlets to bring it up again.

What Cooper did was horrible. People are offended and for good reason. But, with everything that he did aside, Cooper should be cut simply on the grounds of the distraction he is becoming.

The Eagles have been an organization that has embraced second chances, but supporting a second chance for Cooper does not mean it has to be with your team.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: