Riley Cooper, Devoid of Real Talent, Will Be Just Another ‘Nigger-Guy’

This should be good.

It is said that in our anger and angst is when our true colors show. In the midst of adversity, no matter how great or small, we notice what we are truly made of for better or worse.

This is one way to interpret Riley Cooper’s angry tirade at a Kenny Chesney concert, where the Eagles wide receiver dropped one maddening ‘N-Bomb’. The former roommate of Tim Tebow is the new ‘Nigger Guy’, and he will be forced to walk the plank all his other predecessors have. This situation has a different twist to it, as Cooper’s profession places him in the same locker room as men who have the same racial identifier as the racial slur he damn-near unconsciously threw at the security guard.

Yet, his apology mostly seemed like he was just a man who knows his career is ending, but desperately trying to do the most to show he cares. Like a man futilely trying to buy his woman who’s completely over him flowers, Cooper’s apology was mostly Tiger-esque—an apology that’s mostly derived from the trauma of our embarrassment of the aftermath than from the action itself, where self-loathing for the destruction of one’s image is mistakenly contrived as contrition. The Eagles have excused him from the team so he can see “professionals” to help him “deal with” what he said. I have a simpler solution to the problem; just cut him.

Unlike Michael Richards (Kramer), a past-his-prime actor who at worst may have had to answer to the rest of his scrawny, skinny, or out-of-shape African American comedic colleagues, Cooper’s counterparts are men who are, arguably, in the best shape of all pro sports and are given license permission to hit him with hard helmets at blitzing speed. Unfortunately—or fortunately– the Philadelphia Eagles have to release him.

It seems justified to allow him to at least continue auditioning to make the team. To allow men desperately trying to make a name for themselves to throw their bodies at him, and to have him run curl and slant routes in front of some beefy black middle linebacker from Texas seemed to be the best way to have this story end for those that now want his helmet on a pike.

Whether Riley Cooper is racist does not matter. Besides, when these things happen, people close to the matter tend to want to speak positively. We’re not going to meet anyone who knows Cooper to publicly state they are not surprised at his outburst. What we do know, however, is that instead of referring to security guards in the epithets we uniformly tend to call them—rent-a-cops, asshole, pig, jerk, dickhead, etc.—Cooper took disdain for a singular security guard who happened to be black as an opportunity to make a declaration of how he’d beat “EVERY nigger” at the venue. He may not be racist, but what he said is definitely something racist people say, and said it with the visceral tenacity that accompanies such racists.

Even more interesting is the variety of responses it drew from those with him. One telling, and discomforting detail, though, is the humor to which the epithet is received by those that are in his crew. More than his ease in saying the word is the fact that some found it amusing—not appalling—to hear him use the word. One woman exclaims laughingly “ahhh, he said nigga.” But a redeeming one comes from the gentlemen—one noticeably Eagles Guard Jason Kelce—beside him who’s smiley quickly turns into a shaming “whoa, whoa, whoa” after Cooper says the word. This why assessing who he is as an individual is difficult; even if you don’t believe him when he says he has never said that word before. (Because we all know that when you’re drunk and upset you develop new vocabulary and slang.)

As with everything, though, context is paramount. If Riley cooper says the word while at a Rick Ross concert while reciting the chorus this becomes a different conversation. He doesn’t have to (as) shamefully stand in front of a mic feigning depression. But Cooper will not be released because of what he said more than he will be because you want your team focused on the task of winning a Super Bowl and not news headlines. On basic economics alone, Cooper is too much of a liability. Cooper spent a long time on the Eagles roster and never got a starting spot. If Peyton Manning made this mistake, it’d be much more consequential. And because Cooper is not Peyton Manning—or even Carson Palmer—we only learn what we already knew: being a team distraction will probably get you released, especially if you suck. Thus, the Eagles are taking a greater stance on team focus than they are about the use of the word itself.

A better player would have given us a better idea about how we actually feel about it. And until that happens, we’ll keep beating the dead horse.

Two more weeks of Cooper in the NFL should be entertaining. But Cooper’s career is over. But do NOT get it twisted, it will be because of his talent (or lack thereof). Not what he said. And I hope he remembers that.

And like every player cut because he can’t make the grade, we can go back to forgetting him. He does not have the talent to be known as anything else. He’ll just always be known as another ‘Nigger-Guy’.

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