LeSean McCoy on Riley Cooper: ‘I can’t respect a guy like that’
Riley Cooper returned to practice with the Philadelphia Eagles Thursday, less than 24 hours after a video surfaced online of Cooper saying, “I will fight every n****r here.”
In addition to having to deal with fans’ ire over the incident, Cooper may have alienated himself from many players within the Eagles’ locker room, despite his apology.
That added tension was front and center Thursday. From the NFL Network’s Albert Breer:
LeSean McCoy told me what hurts about Cooper’s remarks is “losing a friend.” I asked him what that meant, “I can’t respect a guy like that.”
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) August 1, 2013
Cooper will be hard-pressed to find anyone who feels sorry for him at this point, and it’s clear he has work to do to win back the respect of his teammates. The former Florida Gator also could find the going a little extra difficult during games this season and beyond, with plenty of players outside of Philadelphia no doubt upset with Cooper’s comment, too.
In fact, Marcus Vick, brother of Eagles QB Michael Vick, tweeted after the video became public: “Hey I’m putting a bounty on Riley’s head. 1k to the first Free Safety or Strong safety that lights his a** up! Wake him up please …..”
The tweet was later deleted, and Michael Vick chastised his younger brother for the comment. “To address my brother’s situation and what he’s saying, I don’t think it’s really relevant,” Vick said. “I don’t agree with what my brother is saying. Riley is still my teammate and he just stood in front of us and apologized for what he said. Somewhere deep down you’ve got to find some level of respect for that. To people in the outside world who don’t know how we’re dealing with it, they’re going to forge their own opinions, but my brother has to not show a certain level of ignorance himself.”
Others in Philadelphia were not nearly as quick to come to Cooper’s defense, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Jeff McLane.
“The coaches are saying we should think team first, but this is just crazy,” one player told McLane, under the veil of anonymity. “Was he thinking about the team when he said that?”
Another Eagles player said that Andy Reid would have dealt Cooper a much harsher punishment than a fine. Any way you slice it right now, new coach Chip Kelly appears to have a serious in-house problem on his hands — one that may force the Eagles to reexamine their relatively lenient response to Cooper’s error.
The Eagles hardly need this distraction as they try to move on from a disappointing 4-12 season. Cooper stands to be an important part of that attempted turnaround now that Jeremy Maclin has been lost for the season. Barring injury or a subpar camp, Cooper would be in line to inherit Maclin’s spot in the starting lineup.
But Cooper has created issues for himself well beyond football. It may be a long while, if ever, before things are copacetic between him and his teammates.