December 9, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper (14) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-21. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Well by now you know Riley Cooper’s name, and you also know that it is not for good reason. To be brief, Cooper was caught on camera dropping the n-bomb at a Kenny Chesney concert. The story is attracting heavy interest, and is not the attention that the Philadelphia Eagles want surrounding them. As of today, Cooper was excused from all Eagles activites and sent off for counceling until he is ready. Even with the counceling, the question still needs to be asked. Should Riley Cooper be released? To me, the answer is yes.
For starters, the entire incident is dividing the Eagles locker room. Here are what some of Cooper’s teamates have to say about the matter.
"Riley is my friend, and our relationship has always been about mutual respect. He looked me in the eyes and apologized to me and my teammates. I believe in forgiveness and I believe in him.”-Michael Vick I never dealt with anything like this in my years in the National Football League, I can take it for face value and say, ‘Oh, that’s the person.’ Or I can judge the man’s character from the four years I’ve known him and the way he’s treated people around our building.”- Jason Avant He’s still a teammate. I’m still going to block for him. I’m still gonna show great effort. Just on a friendship level, and as a person, I can’t really respect somebody like that. I think as a team, we need to move past it. There are some things that are going to be hard to work with, to be honest.”-LeSean McCoy"
Clearly some players feel differently about what happened, and that is not a good thing. There is a lot of tension in the locker room, and players are saying that they can not even respect a guy on their team. According to Head Coach Chip Kelly there is a major concern over how the team as a whole is reacting to the incident. An NFL team should consist of players that truly share a bond together, but Cooper seems to be changing his teammates minds.
The next point is quite frank. Riley Cooper isn’t very good. His career numbers consist of 46 total receptions, and 5 touchdowns. 46 receptions are not impressive for a player going into his fourth year in the NFL. Sure, he could step in and start for the injured Jeremy Maclin and have a “career” year, but are fans really expecting Cooper to make a major impact? Probably not. The Eagles have several other wide receivers on the roster that are just as good. You have to question if it is really worth keeping a mediocre player with so much controversy surrounding him.
The last point I have to make as to why I think Cooper should be released is that he is a distraction that the team simply does not need right now. There is already a lot of pressure for this team to bounce back from an awful season last year. The team also is holding an open competition for the starting quarterback gig. At this point, the Eagles really do not need to be dealing with such an ignorant act. With the team heading into the season with so much adversity, they do not need the added burden of Cooper.
With Riley Cooper stepping aside from training camp it is fair to wonder if he will ever but pads on for the Eagles again. There has been mixed reports on if they will cut Cooper or not, but it is very difficult to get a grasp on what the Eagles are thinking right now. With the quarterback situation still not resolved, and the necessity to improve next year, keeping Riley Cooper on the roster does not seem to make sense. It will be interesting to see how the situation is resolved, but I do not see Cooper making a difference for this Eagles team even if he is spared his spot on the roster.