Friday, August 2, 2013
The Riley Cooper Situation (Reader E-Mail)
Just to bring everyone up to speed, on Wednesday a video surfaced on the sports blog Crossing Broad of Eagles #2 wideout hopeful Riley Cooper using a derogatory slur at a Kenny Chesney concert. He has since been fined by his team and sentenced to "sensitivity training classes." More than a few high profile players, including Riley's Pro Bowl teammate LeSean McCoy, have made it clear that that type of language is unacceptable.
What's your take on Riley Cooper? The media will certainly make him a pariah, and using that kind of language is inexcusable...but the players forgive him (didn't forget, but forgave) and that should be what matters most right? You hate to see a young kid have his career ruined because of a single slip. How much leeway do you give him? It's a tricky situation but he seemed sincere in his apology. And lastly do you think it would have garnered an equal reaction had he used a derogatory term for another race?
Well you're right about that type of language being inexcusable, and just because a few players have forgave Cooper for his drunken slip-up (to put it very lightly), doesn't mean that things are back to normal. There's still literally hundreds of players in the league who were no doubt offended by his choice of words and either didn't have the social platform speak up or didn't feel the need to address is publicly.
It's NEVER acceptable to use that word, but its probably an even worse idea to use that word when your profession allows for physical assault on a play-by-play basis. You can bet your bottom dollar there's going to be 30 safeties out there (Tom Zbikowski excluded) licking their chops every time Cooper crosses the middle. Lets just say that fine won't be the only formal punishment he receives.
As far as how much leeway I give him, the answer is none. When you're a professional athlete (or any job that puts you in the public eye) you have a responsibility to rise to the occasion and act like a decent human being. You're representing your franchise and league every time you walk out of your house. Even though Cooper was probably 20 beers deep and swimming in country ass at the time of the video, he showed us his true colors and that's what's so unfortunate about this. Because no matter good he plays on the field this skidmark is going to follow him for the rest of his life, and rightfully so.
But this is the NFL, where alleged murderers have been able to bounce back to become Super Bowl MVPs, so I don't think this will be the end of Riley Cooper's career. Sure, its going to be the first thing we all think about anytime we hear his name, but if he can produce he'll continue to wear a jersey and get a gigantic paycheck each week.
Your last question was great one- "do you think it would have garnered an equal reaction had he used a derogatory term for another race?" I think that if Cooper had replaced the N word for the derogatory term for gays then we would have witnessed equal outrage from the media, though not as much feedback from the players (other than Chris Kluwe). It's unfortunate, but I think if the slur had been aimed at another minority ethnic group it would have gotten swept under the rug. It just so happens to be that African Americans (the group Cooper targeted) make up the the majority of the league that he plays in, hence the (predictable and justifiable) backlash.
The Redskins will be the first team to get a crack at Cooper this season, provided he remains an Eagle, on Monday Night Football (9/9) in D.C.