As if the Philadelphia Eagles were not already in the news for all the wrong reasons — torn ACL’s to Jeremy Maclin and Jason Phillips — now wide receiver Riley Cooper makes matters much worse with his recent racial slur at a Kenny Chesney concert that was caught on video.
After the injury to Maclin, Cooper is supposed to be the next guy to step up into a starting wide receiver role opposite DeSean Jackson. Cooper has a great deal of talent, and can use this season to really break out in the NFL. However, he has not begun this process in a professional manner.
Cooper quickly apologized for his comments according to Fox News:
This is the lowest of lows. This is not the type of person I want to be portrayed as. This isn’t the type of person I am. I’m extremely sorry.
That’s no excuse for what I said. I don’t use that term. I was raised better than that. I have a great mom and dad and they’re disgusted with my actions.
That may be true, however, that particular word seemed to slip out of Cooper’s mouth with ease. Granted, he was holding a beer in the video and could have been intoxicated, but as a professional athlete, he needs to maintain composure at all times and always expect a camera to be present.
The Eagles, however, could have handled this situation in a better — and more urgent — manner. Team owner Jeffrey Lurie had some strong words regarding Cooper’s actions:
We are shocked and appalled by RileyCooper’s words. This sort of behavior or attitude from anyone has no role in a civil society. He has accepted responsibility for his words and his actions. He has been fined for this incident.
Fined. That is the only punishment that Cooper was handed for those appalling words. The NFL weighed in on Cooper’s comments as well:
The NFL stands for diversity and inclusion. Comments like this are wrong, offensive, and unacceptable.
Well, it was announced that the NFL will not punish Cooper any further, so one must wonder exactly how much weight that statement holds (via Chicago Tribune).
Roger Goodell said on Mike and Mike this morning that the NFL will not take any further action against WR Riley Cooper.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 1, 2013
It does not look good for the Eagles organization when Cooper is given a minimal fine from the three heads of the team — who all happen to be white men. This slap on the wrist does not promote solidarity for the team and zero tolerance for this type of detrimental conduct. On Twitter, Albert Breer explains how the monetary sum of the fine is calculated for Cooper:
Riley Cooper’s salary for ’13 is $630K. So by rule, w/o suspending him, the max the Eagles can fine him for conduct detrimental is $37,058.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) August 1, 2013
That is chump change for a player like Cooper that is making a solid amount of money this season. It certainly does not seem reasonable for his actions. If the Eagles were to suspend Cooper for an amount of time, it would have sent a much stronger message across the NFL.
Right now, it seems that the Eagles take a higher priority in keeping their players on the field and trying to win football games than upholding policies against racism in a very diverse league.