Today, half of the shows on TV are made up of amateur videos of crotch shots, dunking ignorance and spur of the moment stunts gone wrong. These are videos that producers have drudged up from the internet’s vault of truly embarrassing riches, and there is one clip that I’m betting Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper is wishing didn’t go viral.
That video is of Cooper at a Kenny Chesney concert exclaiming that he’d “fight every n—– here.”
Cooper’s words are ignorant, callus and hateful to say the least, but what is even worse is whom they came from. This is the type of bigotry and language that you expect to only come from small recesses of the country, blocked off from the majority of the nation. Areas where they are still stuck in the antebellum era, and rarely come in contact with members of other races or cultures.
That’s not the case with Cooper. Sure, he’s a country boy from Oklahoma, but its not like he’s been sheltered away and shut off from the outside world all while being force fed white supremacy by Klansman. Still, that’s the way he acted, and now he must accept the consequences of his actions.
Cooper, who plays not only a sport in which about 65% of rosters are made up of African-Americans, plays a sport where his physical well being depends on those same black players.
Football, more so then any other sport, calls on teammates to have a certain level of trust in one another, and be able to have one another’s back when the situation calls for it. So when that time comes and Cooper needs a block before being blindsided by an opposing strong safety, will he get it? Probably. But don’t think for a second there won’t be teammates who second-guess whether or not he should.
See, Cooper’s words did more than show that racial tolerance is still an uphill battle in America; they also burned that bridge of trust built between Cooper and many of his teammates. Whether they admit it or not, public scrutiny aside, Cooper’s biggest hurdle will be proving to his teammates that he has their back, regardless of their skin tone.
I don’t know how many black folks were at the Kenny Chesney concert, but my guess is Cooper wouldn’t have fought as many that night as he’ll have to fight in the Eagles locker-room. It may not be a physical confrontation, but there will be a mental and emotional one as Cooper tries to rebuild his reputation with the team.
He took the first step by issuing an apology to his coaches, fans, and teammates via twitter. He spent three years building that reputation, however, and it’ll take much more than three tweets to erase the tinge of his ignorant exclamation.
He should have just fought the urge to use a racial slur. Instead, he’s become the star of the latest “don’t do this at home kids” video… and hopefully they don’t.