Riley Cooper, whose racial slur caught on video at a Kenny Chesney concert in June has made national news since it surfaced on Wednesday, left the team on Friday to seek sensitivity counseling (see story).
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said that personnel decisions were not part of the decision, and that Cooper was “in full agreement.”
Cooper’s teammates mostly supported Cooper after his temporary dismissal. Michael Vick and Jason Avant -- two teammates who expressed support initially after Cooper’s public apology -- continued to support their teammate.
DeSean Jackson said that “at the end of the day, he’s still our teammate.”
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has a different opinion than some of the Eagles, and thinks that Cooper needs to find a sincere way -- in addition to his apology -- to help repair the damage he has caused to the city and its community.
Nutter released the following statement on Friday:
“As the Mayor of this city and an African-American man, I find the remarks made by Riley Cooper, repugnant, insensitive and ignorant, and all of us, regardless of race or nationality, should be offended by these comments.
“I recognize that the private sector is very different than the public sector in terms of rules and procedures, but I would note that in our government, if an executive branch “at-will” employee, somewhat similar to Mr. Cooper’s status with the Eagles, made such comments, I would insist on a suspension at a minimum and would seriously have to evaluate terminating such an individual from employment with the city.
“Mr. Cooper has done something which he clearly knows was wrong and he has accepted personal responsibility, but the punishment should match the intense level of the offense. It is ultimately up to the Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL to determine whether what has been announced as a penalty is enough, but in my opinion it falls short of a serious recognition of just how offensive and hurtful these comments are to African-Americans and other people with good conscience who fight discrimination on many fronts - race, religion, gender, sexual preference, marriage equality, employment and many other areas.
“Sports players are in fact, knowingly or unknowingly, role models for our youth who often imitate their behavior and actions. It is my view that beyond any other punishment that could potentially result from this incident, Mr. Cooper must look deep in his heart to see how, beyond his personal public apology, he can repair the damage that he has caused to the Philadelphia community, and its relationship with the Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL.
“In a year when we celebrated the great achievements of Jackie Robinson in the Move ’42,’ it is truly saddening that racial epithets are still being hurled like baseballs, or by a football player, at the human dignity of African-Americans and others. This incident is a disgrace, and cannot be excused by just paying a fine, as if it were a parking ticket.”