By now you know that a video of Riley Cooper has been made public via the website CrossingBroad.com, that Riley Cooper made a horrendous mistake using a racial slur, and that he has apologized publicly. In response, Riley Cooper was the focus of a press conference. In a separate news release, Jeffrey Lurie addressed the issue: “We are shocked and appalled by Riley Cooper’s words. This sort of behavior or attitude from anyone has no role in a civil society. He has accepted responsibility for his words and his actions. He has been fined for this incident.”
So where does this place Chip Kelly? In a very difficult position. Chip Kelly has just arrived to the NFL, and his every move is analyzed and questioned. If he’s too harsh, he’s a control-freak, a dictator. If he’s too lenient, he’s a push over. If he engages his players, he’s lacking leadership qualities. If he ignores his players feedback, he’s an iron handed coach.
Chip Kelly’s tenure as Head Coach of the Oregon ducks was celebrated for his innovations to the offense, and his incorporation of sports science. But a well known fact in the Oregon system was Chip Kelly’s “next man up” mantra. Let me allow DuckStopsHere author and Duck fan Scott Morgan explain:
“Players down the depth chart really stepped up and acquitted themselves admirably throughout the past couple of years.”
So the team has responded with dollars, and the NFL is deliberating on it’s disciplinary action. But should Chip Kelly play the passive hand, and use the decisions of others to dictate the roster decisions of his team? In Oregon, Chip Kelly was not slow to deliberate. In 2010, Chip suspended junior quarterback Jeremiah Masoli after the player pled guilty to 2nd degree burglary charges, and tailback LaMichael James for the season opener after the player plea bargained to a misdemeanor harassment charge involving a former girlfriend. Both players were co-MVPs from the previous year’s Pac-10 championship team. In his very first game as head coach, Kelly had to suspend LaGarrette Blount after Blount threw the infamous punch at a Boise State player. That suspension lasted eight games.
Some fans are trying to rationalize the infraction away from the game of football. Some fans are pointing to the state of inebriation as a qualifying for a pass. Some claim that the players remourse today is sufficiently heartfelt to keep the guy on the starting squad.
Nevertheless, when I think of Eagles greats like Jerome Brown, and Reggie White, who are no longer with us, and who are my personal heroes of the Eagles; and when I think of the greats who still are: Brian Dawkins, Donovan McNabb, Leonard Weaver – whose courage in an eagles uniform still inspires me, I cannot accept this. As a human, we all make mistakes. As an Eagles fan, we have faced too much adversity, been forced to circle the wagons far too often, to worry about friendly fire. We have been labeled as a bad fan base, but we have stood by the team through adversity together.
What’s done is done, but to the memory of the greats, and to the honor of the many who gave so much to wear our uniform with pride, it would not be upsetting to me to see Riley Cooper drop in the depth charts. Chip Kelly is trying to build a winner. To make that altitude, sometimes you have to cut the ballast. For the Eagles to rise to those heights, I don’t think we can carry players. This may be the perfect occasion for the Eagles to employ Chip Kelly’s “next man up” mantra. If the roster were to be released now, I would be thrilled to see no sign of Riley Cooper on the team.
Written by: @milroyigglesfan