Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper, who was caught last week on tape saying the n-word at a Kenny Chesney concert, returned to the team’s training camp with a surprising message to the media: He has told all of his teammates not to exonerate him for his remarks, according to ESPN.
“I talked to everyone individually,” he said following the team’s joint practice with the New England Patriots. “I told them, ‘I don’t want you to forgive me, because that puts the burden on you. I want it all on me.’ I told them that and I told them I apologize. They could tell it was from the heart, they know I’m not that kind of person. It feels good to have support from the guys.”
Riley was excused from all team practices and drills late last week and was ordered by the team to undergo sensitivity training. His return yesterday was welcomed by head coach Chip Kelly, teammate and fellow receiver Jason Avant and team owner Jeffrey Lurie, who also released a statement.
“I think you guys [the media] need the healing process more than the team,” Avant said. “You guys got to cover it, so you keeping going, making the story go, but as far as our team, I think guys are definitely over it and we talked, we’ve had dialogue, we’ve accepted his apology. The only thing he can do is apologize. What else can he do? When a situation happens like that, there’s not too many things you can do but apologize and be sincere about it. Now you guys have to get over it.”
Asked whether or not a situation could arise where the team would part ways with Cooper due to the fallout from the situation, Kelly squashed the notion.
“I don’t see that happening,” he said. “After talking to our players, I think our players really understand the situation … I don’t envision that happening.”
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement Tuesday that Cooper’s slur was “totally unacceptable” but that the receiver was working to regain trust with the team and community. Cooper was fined by the Eagles after his slur became known last week.
“His words may have been directed at one person but they hurt everyone. Riley has apologized to the team and community and has made a personal commitment to work hard to try and gain their trust and earn his position on the team,” Lurie said in the statement.
The Eagles play their first preseason game on Friday, Aug. 9.