As the Riley Cooper scandal unfolded in the Philadelphia Eagles training camp, new head coach Chip Kelly was put in a rough spot. How to discipline a player for his actions and how to heal a locker room. Without much of track record on how to handle situations like this, Kelly reached out to respected coach and leader Tony Dungy
“I told him to trust his instincts,’’ Dungy said, via Peter King of the MMQB. “He can use this as a teaching moment, and his decision could pull this team together.’’
“Chip will make the right decision,” Dungy said. “He doesn’t care what the popular opinion. He cares about what’s right.”
It is worth noting that this isn’t the first time Kelly has reached out to Dungy. In 2009 Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount punched a Boise State player in the face in post-game skirmish.
Kelly quickly suspended Blount for the remainder of the season, but changed his mind and allowed Blount to play in the final two games if he followed a strict set of guidelines and rules. Blount did and played in the last two games of the season.
That decision is credited with affording Blount an opportunity a chance to rehab his image and get another shot at the NFL.
“Chip could have kicked Blount to the curb,” Dungy said. “He chose to believe in him. And it worked out. With Riley Cooper, this kid made a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes. The big issue, too, is the alcohol. That has to be dealt with. But Chip will make the right decision. He doesn’t care what the popular opinion. He cares about what’s right.’’
What does Chip Kelly think?
“I think Jason Avant said it the best,’’ Kelly said. “He said, ‘This isn’t something you sweep under the rug.’ You’ve got to address it and communicate with our players, and they need to be able to communicate with us and have an open forum. I do believe, though, that Riley understands the ramifications of what happened. But there’s still a process of everyone going through their acceptance of him. I believe I know what the endgame will be, but I don’t know what the timetable is.’’