Riley Cooper, a backup wide receiver for my Philadelphia Eagles football team, is famous today, and not for catching touch down passes.
In June, while attending a concert, Mr. Cooper found himself in a heated exchange with a security guard, an African American security guard, and spat out a word that is more incendiary to that community than gasoline on a bonfire.
Mr. Cooper now finds himself starring in a film that is all over the internet and he's dominating ESPN this morning for all the wrong reasons. The ease with which this racial slur slips from his mouth is disturbing to this Caucasian blogger, I can only imagine the anger that is felt by his fellow African American team mates. I take that back......no, I can't imagine.
Since his film opened yesterday, he has done all the right things. He apologized privately to his team mates, coaches and team owner, before stepping before the cameras and apologizing to the public for his degrading racial remarks. I heard what he had to say and he seems sincere, but what do I know? I don't know Riley Cooper. I don't know if he's a racist or just gets really stupid after a few beers.
Michael Vick, the teams quarterback and ex-con, knows a thing or two about forgiveness and second chances stood in front of the cameras and said he talked with Riley Cooper, listened to what he had to say, and accepts his apology. Props to Michael Vick.
I think there is a difference between accepting an apology and forgetting, and the promising career that was once ahead for this talented player now has huge hurtles for him to overcome along the way.
I don't think Riley Cooper is a racist. He has spent most of his life in locker rooms that are filled with African American players. I don't think he would have made it all the way to an NFL locker room without this truth being uncovered, if that were true. I think he's just stupid.
Is it possible that when Cooper was in this heated exchange with the security guard, he used the "N" word, knowing it would be the greatest insult he could drum up, not because he is a racist but because he is very insensitive and not too bright football player?
I may be way off here, but this guy has lived most of his life hanging out in very diverse locker rooms, celebrating wins and getting over losses with those same people, no matter the color.
My gut tells me this guy doesn't see black and white, he sees team mates.
There is no excuse for speaking like that. He has been fined by the team, scorned in public and embarrassed himself and his family.
He screwed up and quite possibly ruined a promising career.
There isn't another single word in the english language that draws so much attention.
Forgive and forget?
We'll see how that works out for Riley Cooper.