I just finished watching Eagles WR Riley Cooper address the media (see below) in response to his public usage of one of the most heinous racial slurs known to mankind.
In case you just crawled from under a rock, an apparently intoxicated and obviously irritated Riley directed this towards a security guard at a recent Kenny Chesney concert.
In any forum, any situation, it’s hard to justify or explain away the ugly outburst.
During his press conference on Wednesday Cooper’s apology seemed sincere – very sincere. He looked humiliated, embarrassed, humbled, remorseful and in pain. He also seemed willing to accept any consequences – honor any punishment without resistance.
He apologized to the media and the fans and explained that he had apologized to team owner Jeffrey Lurie, GM Howie Roseman and head coach Chip Kelly. He described his parents as great people who were very disappointed in their son – one of the deepest cuts a child can sustain.
But the biggest challenge of all during the aftermath for Cooper will take place in that Eagles locker room and how his teammates respond to his apology.
I’m sure we’ve all said or done things we’d love to have back. I’m sure many of you, myself included, have had on one or more occasions said or done something under the influence that eventually delivered embarrassment to your doorstep.
What defines a person after such an incident is how they face the music. How they take their medicine and learn.
Cooper’s lesson will go into overdrive in that Eagles locker room.
If he’s a guy who has even slightly behaved in a way that might suggest bigotry, he’s done. But if his teammates haven’t seen anything remotely like this from Cooper in the past, accept his apology as sincere and then move on, it could be a galvanizing event for the Eagles.
If his teammates can get over it, there’s still the rest of the league for Cooper to deal with. Opponents and their fans will taunt him; they’ll go a little harder at him; maybe they’ll even go at him after the whistle. Perhaps that’s part of his penance.
Some have said that given the fact that Cooper’s quarterback Michael Vick is an African-American, that it could be a problem for the Eagles’ signal caller.
Vick should be the least of Cooper’s problems. If anything Vick who committed repeated heinous crimes, understands forgiveness.
And now it’s time for him to forgive.
If given the chance Cooper can teach us all a lesson.
Hopefully a forgiving Eagles locker room can allow that to happen.