Riley Cooper apologized, publicly and privately, and has been fined for using a racial slur that was captured on video at a Kenny Chesney concert. His quarterback, Michael Vick, said he has forgiven him.
Starting with practice today, it will become apparent whether he and the Philadelphia Eagles are truly able to put the ugly incident behind them.
Cooper, whose on-the-field profile with the Eagles was increased when wide receiver Jeremy Maclin suffered a season-ending injury, was caught using the slur after an incident at the early June concert. (CrossingBroad.com broke the story and has the video, viewed over 1 million times, here.) He immediately apologized on Twitter when Crossing Broad posted the video, met awkwardly with the media, was fined by owner Jeff Lurie and, later, met privately with his teammates.
“I am so ashamed and disgusted with myself. I want to apologize,” Cooper said first in a statement.. “I have been offensive. I have apologized to my coach, to Jeffrey Lurie, to [General Manager] Howie Roseman and to my teammates. I owe an apology to the fans and to this community. I am so ashamed, but there are no excuses. What I did was wrong and I will accept the consequences.”
He spoke with reporters for roughly six minutes, repeatedly apologizing, saying that he was raised better than that, admitting that he had been drinking and that the incident stemmed from a confrontation with an African-American security guard and that he’d handled the situation “extremely poorly.” He siad he had been fined “a good amount of money,” but neither he nor the Eagles disclosed just how much he was docked.
“This is the lowest of the lows,” he said. “This isn’t the type of person I want to be portrayed as. This isn’t the type of person that I am. I’m just extremely sorry.”
Vick stepped forward to defend Cooper after the private team meeting and mentioned his own redemption after serving a nearly two-year sentence for his role in dog-fighting.
“What if your son or daughter made a mistake of this factor? How would you want people to perceive it? I’ve been there before,” Vick told reporters.
“Him being my brother, knowing him for so long, it’s hard to defend him saying that. At the same, time, it happened. We talked about it man to man, one on one. We just know that we have to some way move on. It’s a very delicate situation. But we all understand. Somehow we all have to find a way to get past it. That’s maturity in itself.”
Vick said the players “understand the magnitude of the situation,” but added that “I’ve been with him for the last three years and I know what type of person he is. And that’s what makes it easy, at the same time hard, to understand the situation, but easy to forgive him. I forgave him.”
Vick had to do a bit of explaining about a tweet from his brother that complicated the situation briefly. Marcus Vick wrote, in tweets that he later had his girlfriend delete: ““Hey I’m putting a bounty on Riley’s head. 1k to the first Free Safety or Strong safety that light his [butt] up! Wake him up please….” And then, he added, “Hahahaha! Peace of [expletive]. Who want to play on team with guys like that?”
His brother’s response? “People on the outside world who don’t know how we’re dealing with it. They’re going to voice their own opinion,” Michael Vick said. “But my brother has to not show a certain level of ignorance himself.
“I don’t agree with what my brother is saying. Riley is still my teammate. And he just stood in front of us as a man and apologized for what he said. And somewhere deep down, you have to find some level of respect for that.”
Today, the Eagles — with Cooper — return to the practice field.