Riley Cooper excused from team activities during sensitivity training
PHILADELPHIA (AP/ABC7) - Embattled Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper has been excused from all team activities while he pursues sensitivity training in the wake of his racist comments about black people.
The team announced Friday that Cooper will not be around the team and will be evaluated throughout the process.
"Right now, I think it's important for me to take some time to reflect on this situation," Cooper said in a statement issued by the team. "The organization and my teammates have been extremely supportive, but I also realize that there are people who will have a tough time forgiving me for what I've done."
The Eagles have set cooper up with sensitivity training after the wide receiver was caught on video making a racial slur.
"In meeting with Riley yesterday, we decided together that his next step will be to seek outside assistance to help him fully understand the impact of his words and actions," the team said in a statement Thursday. "He needs to reflect. As an organization, we will provide the resources he needs to do so."
Cooper apologized profusely Wednesday after a video of him using the N-word at a Kenny Chesney concert last month surfaced on the Internet. The Eagles immediately fined him, and the league plans no further discipline.
"I know Riley made a heinous mistake," coach Chip Kelly said. "I was appalled by it. I was actually shocked by it because since I've been here since April, that's not the Riley Cooper I know. He accepted responsibility for it and he has to live with it, but I hope at some point in time we'll have a chance to move on from it.
"But right now I don't think it's going to be something that's going to go away very quickly."
Cooper, who grew up in Clearwater, Fla., was selected in the fifth round of the 2010 draft by the Eagles out of the University of Florida. He has just 46 catches and five touchdowns in three years with the Eagles, but has been practicing with the starters since Jeremy Maclin's season-ending injury last week.
Teammates Michael Vick, Jason Avant and others expressed forgiveness for Cooper. LeSean McCoy also said he forgives Cooper, but he doesn't view him the same anymore.
"Just on a friendship level, and as a person, I can't really respect somebody like that," McCoy said. "I think as a team, we need to move past it. There are some things that are going to be hard to work with, to be honest."
Cooper spoke to the media again after practice Thursday, telling them his meeting with teammates a night earlier was "extremely emotional."
"There's been no friction," Cooper told reporters. "I respect a lot of the guys that came up to me yesterday and today. Numerous, numerous, numerous players said, 'Coop, we know that's not the type of person you are. We respect you, and we're behind you, and if you need anything, call me, text me, you know I'm there for you.' That definitely felt good."
Cooper could have trouble outside the locker room when he's on the field. Defenders may go after him even harder than usual now.
"You don't want to see that, but somebody is," Dallas Cowboys safety Will Allen said. "Somebody is going to be mad and perpetuate the negativity. I don't think that's something we should do, but I am sure it will happen."