As if the earlier remarks of LeSean McCoy were not indication enough, it’s now clear that Eagles coach Chip Kelly has a serious and perhaps defining situation on his hands thanks to Riley Cooper’s racist remark.
Via to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the anonymous players are beginning to sing, and they’re not signing “Kum ba yah.”
“I’ll tell you one thing, if it was Andy Reid, he would have gotten more than a fine,” one player said without using his name.
“The coaches are saying we should think team first, but this is just crazy,” another said. “Was he thinking about the team when he said that?”
“If he’s on the team, he’s on the team,” a player said. “Don’t mean I have to like him.”
The simple fact of the matter is, not every player on the roster is going to be as forgiving as quarterback Michael Vick, who is inclined to offer second chances having received a considerable one himself.
Kelly admitted concern with how the situation was going to play out, and whether his locker room would be divided.
“Yeah, there is a concern with that,” Kelly said, via CSNPhilly.com. “Obviously, it’s a very hot topic and that’s why I encouraged our team [that] we’ve got to have some open communication so everybody knows what went on and what Riley is doing to atone for it.”
The easy choice for Kelly to make would be to deem Cooper more trouble than he’s worth, especially in light of the immediate anonymous backlash. If two or three guys are already chirping, more are in the background waiting to join the chorus, especially if they have no background with the third-year wideout.
And the question of value is a real one. Even with Jeremy Maclin out for the year, Cooper’s a guy who has caught 46 passes in three seasons. There are players on the street who could offer that, if not more.
But keeping him, managing the situation, and reeling in the strong emotions could also strengthen Kelly’s hold over the team.
That’s worth more, especially for a first year coach, than any single player. But Kelly’s going to have to handle this one delicately, because feelings are obviously raw, and they’re not going to be smoothed over today or tomorrow.