Sunday, August 4, 2013
CAN RILEY COOPER REALLY BE FORGIVEN?
Our world is generous when it come to forgiveness and second chances. Michael
Vick certainly knows that. He napalmed his first opportunity in the NFL by killing dogs
and lying to law enforcement officials which added up to a two-year stint in a federal
When he turned in his orange jumpsuit, the Philadelphia Eagles and many of their fans
forgave Vick after he signed a contract to play in the city of brotherly love. Oh, sure, there
are some people who will never forgive Vick for what he did to man's best friend, but for
the most part, he's been allowed to live his life just as he did before spending time behind
Vick is on a long list of athletes, politicians, and entertainers who made mind-boggling
mistakes that were thought to have destroyed their career, reputation, and lives beyond
repair. Whether it's time that heals all wounds or the realization that we'd all like to get
a second chance if we self-destructed to really screw things up for ourselves.
Unfortunately, Riley Cooper probably won't be getting a second chance to make a good
impression and may never recover. The Eagles receiver was caught on a tape at a Kenny
Chesney concert this summer spewing hate, vile, and stupidity. Cooper said emphatically,
"I will fight every n****er here!", to a security guard, who was African-American.
The tape of the worst moment of Cooper's life was shown to the world on Wednesday,
by Friday, he had been fined, criticized, and labeled as a racist. Cooper crumbled under
the weight of it all and asked the Eagles to be excused from all team activities as he
seeks counseling and tries to get a grip on the reality of all.
Cooper informed team officials that he was also getting threats on his Twitter account,
and I'm sure, a lot of stares, taunts, and head-shaking from the public. In the eyes of
many, Cooper's racist remark is far worse than Vick's transgressions, or even Donte
Stallworth's drunk driving incident that left a man dead in Miami four years ago.
This isn't even John Rocker, who went psycho in an interview with Sports Illustrated
in 1999 where he offended nearly every race on the planet. It's worse. Much worse. Cooper's
incredibly racist and poor choice of words are on tape forever. There is the hate, the anger,
and the threat against blacks for everyone to see. It's never going away. Ever. Rocker never recovered, odds are, Cooper won't, either.
Cooper is a minority in a sport dominated by African-Americans. If and when Cooper
returns, he will be toxic in the Eagles locker room, one where he will have few, if any
friends or teammates he can confide in. Many of them have already said all the right things,
but forgiveness won't be easy and the trust that Cooper built with many of his teammates
has been shattered completely.
This situation isn't going away anytime soon, unless, of course, the Eagles cut Cooper, which
would end all the repetitive questions from the media about Cooper being a racist. Professional athletes detest answering the same questions about another player every day. They don't want
the distraction and they certainly don't need it. Does any team want to deal with the incredible
tension that has been created in the locker room, especially for Cooper, who isn't exactly a
The Philadelphia Eagles know they'd have another PR mess on their hands if they cut Cooper
tomorrow. I'm sure many people would look at them as cold-hearted, insensitive, or whatever.
That's how our world is.
The NFL isn't for the faint of heart and teams have to do what's best for the players on the field
and in the locker room. Cutting Cooper would be the right thing to do for the Eagles, but it
would probably send Cooper to a place, emotionally, where he' never been. He's just 25-years
old and must feel like the entire world hates him. He doesn't appear mentally strong to deal
with what's coming next, which will be extremely tough.
I hope the Eagles organization and his teammates forgive him and give him another chance.
Living with his mistake and being labeled a racist for the rest of his life will be tough to
overcome. I just don't think it'll ever happen.