Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper has found himself in the center of a self-created controversy. A video of him using a racial slur made the rounds earlier this week and has resulted in him being fined and seeking outside training. It’s taking a toll on Cooper as well.
“I didn’t sleep or eat last night,” Cooper said Thursday after practice, via NFL.com. “I came in underweight and the whole nine yards. It was the toughest night I’ve had. It was tough, it was tough.”
The biggest concern for Cooper is getting treated differently by teammates and losing their respect. LeSean McCoy said this situation is like ”losing a friend … I can’t respect a guy like that,” via NFL.com.
“I guess the real him came out that day,” McCoy said.
While some players are having a hard time accepting Cooper’s apologies, or even talking to him, some have forgiven him.
“I respect a lot of the guys that came up to me yesterday and today — numerous, numerous, numerous players and said ‘Coop, we know that’s not the type of person you are. You know, We respect you and we’re behind you,’ ” Cooper relayed, noting that it could take a “little while” for the team to move on past it.
The fear for Eagles fans is that this could divide the team. Head coach Chip Kelly is aware of that and says it will take time for the team to heal.
“There could be a concern, yeah, there is a concern,” Kelly said. “Obviously it’s a very hot topic. That’s why I encourage our group … and our team and I talked about it last night at the team meeting … we’ve gotta have some open communication to make sure that everyone understands what went on and what Riley did to atone for it.”
Not all players understand why they should put the team first. Some could claim that releasing Cooper would be putting the team first.
“The coaches are saying we should think team first, but this is just crazy,” an anonymous player told Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Was he thinking about the team when he said that?”