Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Riley Cooper Excuse

Pretty Expensive Concert
When I was a kid, I grew up with pretty consistent contact with racist relatives. Slurs were routinely dropped, gross generalizations handed out like mints, and if you wanted to argue that all of that was a bad idea, you were an arrogant little kid that didn't know much about the world. You'd learn how Those People were in time, and that was that.

Well, it wasn't. I hung out with smart people and went to college instead, and while I'm not dumb enough to think that I'm free of the stench that is racism, it's something I try to make sure that I don't succumb to. I'd also guess that it would be easier to rid yourself of such problems if you work with people every day that don't look like you, but that wasn't the case for my relatives. So be it.

Now, I have no idea what Riley Cooper grew up with. I also have no idea what kind of experience he's had in his life, particularly in the pursuit of trying to be a white pro at a position that's more or less dominated by African Americans. For all I know, he's used a closet seething resentment to fuel his training and professional advancement, and that without it, he would have never made it to the NFL.

But I do know this. Cooper isn't a Chip Kelly draft pick, or someone he knows from Adam. He is a marginal NFL talent in terms of his on the field production to date, without much in the way of future explosive potential. He might be the second best WR today on the team with Jeremy Maclin's injury, but he won't be for long, given the talent and potential of some of the guys who are behind him. The league does not need him; he sells no tickets, moves no merch, and in all likelihood, wins you no games. He is, like hundreds of others right now and hundreds of thousands before him, fungible.

And well, fungible guys don't get to become media circuses. For any reason, really.

The contrarian in me thinks that in a couple of weeks, with Cooper now away from the team to get treatment for his issue, and the media focused on whatever new thing is involved in Eagles camp, he'll be able to come back, slide under the radar a bit, make a mea culpa or six and then spend the rest of the year catching the occasional pass and never saying a word. In six months to a year, the team then can release him without much in the way of controversy, draft or sign a heap of wideouts, and move on.

But, well, that's not today. Today is nothing but Cooper in the Philadelphia news, nothing but the sense that he's in the final minutes of an NFL career that won't be revived anywhere else.

And if it adds a chill to the next guy who feels like he can give voice to his worse nature...

Well, we will not be worse as a society. Honest and for true.

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