Should Riley Cooper Be Forgiven?
What Riley Cooper said was wrong, no doubt about it. Although extremely permissible, prevalent and pervasive in black hiphop culture, a white man cannot drop an N-bomb — and rightfully so. The question everyone is asking is where do the Eagles go from here?
While some are calling for his dismissal from the team altogether, for now, he's temporarily relieved from the team for counseling as of Friday.
"As we have said, Riley Cooper will be seeking counseling and we have excused him from all team activities," the team said in a statement. "This is all new territory and we are going to evaluate this timetable every step of the way. He will meet with professionals provided by the Eagles during this period of time to better help him understand how his words have hurt so many, including his teammates."
The Eagles fined Cooper an undisclosed amount for his use of the N-word at a Kenny Chesney concert last month. The receiver said Wednesday the fine was substantial. Coach Chip Kelly said Thursday the team didn't contemplate releasing him, however. The Eagles did not set a timetable for Cooper's return.
Roger Goodell said Thursday on ESPN Radio that no further discipline would be coming from the league, as the collective bargaining agreement doesn't permit dual punishment by the league and a team for the same incident.
Eagles running back LeSean McCoy said while he forgives Cooper for his comments, he's lost respect for the wide receiver.
"I forgive him. We've been friends for a long time," the running back said Thursday. "But in a situation like this, you really find out about someone. Just on a friendship level, I can't really respect someone like that."
McCoy said his relationship with Cooper no longer will extend beyond the football field and there's nothing Cooper can do to change that.
"Ain't nothing to prove. He said how he felt," McCoy said, according to CSNPhilly.com. "He's still a teammate. I'm still going to block for him. I'm still gonna show great effort. Just on a friendship level, and as a person, I can't really respect somebody like that. I 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."
Cooper had already issued an apology but also released the following statement via the Eagles:
"The last few days have been incredibly difficult for me," Cooper said. "My actions were inexcusable. 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.
"Right now, I think it's important for me to take some time to reflect on this situation. The organization and my teammates have been extremely supportive, but I also realize that there are people who will have a tough time forgiving me for what I've done. The best thing for me, and for the team, is to step away for a period of time."
I fully support and understand McCoy's sentiments. He loses respect for someone using a racial slur, as would I — but should he really disown his friend?
This story has picked up much more steam that I ever thought it would. I would like to reiterate — what Cooper said is horrible and should never be repeated, but is it more awful than the many arrests made with NFL players throughout the league yearly — many players who still find themselves on rosters? Some argue that Cooper could have assaulted the security guard instead and it would have barely made headlines.
Chris Culliver made a gay slur before this year's Super Bowl and was ultimately forgiven. His statements were premeditated, live on the air. Cooper's statements were in the middle of a heated, raw and verbal dispute in which he most likely wasn't aware someone was filming; not that unknowingly being filmed is any excuse, but haven't we all said things we regret in the midst of an argument? What if all those moments were filmed for the world to see?
Again, I'm not making light of this subject and maybe it's easy for someone like me — a white male — to say Cooper should be forgiven. But based on the histories of many NFL players that are much worse, aside from Aaron Hernandez, doesn't Cooper — with the correct resolve, which I feel he has done thus far — deserve the same forgiveness from his teammates, as say Culliver, Adam "Pac Man" Jones or Ray Lewis?
I would like to hear the discussion.
Note: Cooper only has 46 catches and five touchdowns in three years with the Eagles but was and still could undergo a very prominent roll with the team with wide receiver Jeremy Maclin sidelined with a season-ending injury.
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