There’s an elephant in the Eagles locker room that even the physical strength of more than 50 professional football players couldn’t lift.
Riley Cooper's comments are a major conversation now because the season hasn’t started. The team just sent him home from training camp for sensitivity training after fining him an undisclosed figure.
So far, we’ve heard mixed reactions from Eagles teammates to the fourth-year wide receiver saying clearly at a Kenny Chesney concert that he would “fight every n*****” there.
Michael Vick went in another direction from his brother, saying that while knowing Cooper as a person made it hard to understand where his comments came from, that it also made it easier to forgive him and try to move past it.
"I was definitely embarrassed,” McCoy told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “He was one of my good friends on this team, and I felt like it was a manner of thinking that the cameras were off, nobody's watching, and that's when a person shows who they really are. And that's exactly what took place."
Cooper could rehabilitate his image, but what about the other prevailing attitude that this wasn’t really a big deal?
Eagles center Jason Kelce was with Cooper at the Chesney concert and had this to say to the Inquirer.
"I think especially with core guys that are going to be on the team and that are going to be interacting with him on a daily basis, everyone will eventually get over it," said Kelce, who is white. "How that time frame goes for certain people . . . obviously that word doesn't have the same effect and meaning when I hear it as some of the other guys on the team."
There are people who don't see the significance of this, or think the n-word should mean something different to them, something that makes it acceptable.
This could open the door for a lot of revelations in NFL locker rooms. Cooper's not the only one who's going to have to adjust to these teammates looking at him differently.
Everyone is talking about whether players in the league who are offended by this can look past it, but what about the players who didn’t find this offensive to begin with? The fans who think black players and the media are making too much of this.
They’re out there, whether that’s the kind of discussion people are ready to have or not.
It’s the kind of disillusionment that resulted in McCoy’s reaction, having felt he was good friends with Cooper until all of sudden he wasn’t.