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Eagles players say Chip Kelly isn’t racist, but rather has a difficult personality

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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It’s a pretty standard refrain by now. Someone is either traded away or gets cut by the Philadelphia Eagles, and then that player publicly questions whether Coach Chip Kelly shows the same amount of respect toward black players as he does toward white players.

“You see how fast he got rid of all the good players. Especially all the good black players. He got rid of them the fastest. That’s the truth,” running back LeSean McCoy told ESPN Magazine after his trade to the Buffalo Bills earlier this year.

Cornerback Brandon Boykin, who was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Aug. 1, told Comcast SportsNet’s Derrick Gunn that Kelly is “uncomfortable around grown men of our culture.”

[Chip Kelly is football’s most intriguing figure, and also its most unknown]

“One of the things that you’re seeing right now, and these are the things that you have heard from the locker room from different players is that … they feel like there is a hint of racism,” former Eagles player and assistant coach Tra Thomas said in March, noting that most of the team’s black assistant coaches are actually assistants to assistants and not solely responsible for a position group.

But now two unnamed, current Eagles players — both of them black — have spoken to Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman. They say Kelly isn’t racist. He’s merely a control freak:

Said the player to Bleacher Report: “Chip is not a racist. The notion he is, isn’t fair. The thing with Chip is, he just doesn’t see you as a person. He sees you as a commodity. The more players get that, the better off they’ll be.”
The player added: “Chip’s attitude towards players doesn’t bother me. I actually like it. I know where I stand with him. You understand that he doesn’t want to be challenged so don’t f–king challenge him. It’s pretty simple. I get it. Some guys don’t.”
A second African-American Eagles player said: “He sets the agenda. You don’t follow it, you’re dead to him. That’s not racial. Some guys handle it well, some guys don’t.”
The players declined to be named out of fear of repercussions from Kelly.

After talking with some Eagles players, Freeman sussed out some examples of Kelly’s overbearing ways. He wants them to dress, act and engage with him exactly as he says, but also doesn’t communicate his desires well to the team (Boykin told reporters that Kelly barely ever talks to his players).

Freeman posits that this attitude might be just as bad for Kelly, pointing to former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh as someone who wore out his NFL welcome because of his demanding attitude:

The difference between Kelly and Harbaugh now is that you don’t hear much complaining from current Eagles players. Only the former ones. Their complaints can be dismissed as sour grapes.
But what these complaints do show is that, like Harbaugh, the Eagles coach is using college-style management techniques in the professional game.
Again, this is not unheard of, but, as in the Harbaugh situation, the patience of players can quickly erode if the winning stops. Kelly is 20-12 in two seasons with one playoff appearance, a loss.

Harbaugh, meanwhile, is back in college at Michigan.