As someone who has covered the Philadelphia Eagles for various media since Dick Vermeil was the coach in the early 1980s, I’ve been asked constantly over the past week by friends, colleagues and even a radio station in Toronto what I think about the Riley Cooper controversy. And my answer is always the same: I don’t think about it.
Why should I, or, for that matter, why should anybody else? I don’t know Cooper well at all, but going by recent events it seems pretty obvious that he’s an idiot. It’s not just the racial slur he directed at an African-American security during a Kenny Chesney concert, which, not surprisingly, has gotten most of the attention. It was also his belligerent, put-up-your dukes attitude throughout the whole thing.
So, why should I waste my time worrying or even wondering about the antics of an idiot? Why should I care what Riley Cooper says, thinks or does? Why should anybody? The obvious answer is that he’s a professional football player, albeit an ordinary one, and that makes him a quasi-celebrity in our cockeyed world. Still, an idiot is an idiot no matter what he does for a living and I have better things to concern myself about and so should you. There have always been idiots and there will always be idiots and I’m certainly not going to lose sleep over them.
And it just proves how cockeyed that world is when Cooper makes headlines and is the featured topic of sports talk shows on television and radio all over the country and teammate Jason Peters barely gets mentioned.
Maybe you remember that Peters was arrested in Louisiana in June for drag racing and resisting arrest after he drove away from police at reported speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. The charges were later reduced to simply driving with an illegal muffler, although nobody seems to know why, but the arrest affidavit, obtained by USA Today, clearly states that Peters did indeed lead police on a 100-mph chase.
But when Eagles coach Chip Kelly was asked about that incident and if there would be any disciplinary action against Peters, Kelly shrugged and said “On a speeding ticket? No.’’
Whoa. This wasn’t an ordinary speeding ticket given to somebody driving 65 in a 55-mph zone. Peters was driving away from police at more than 100 mph and somebody could have been killed, either one of the cops giving chase or an innocent bystander who just happened to be driving on that stretch of road at that specific time.
That is much, much worse that some knucklehead who says some disgusting things at a concert, even though it hasn’t been treated that way. When Kelly was asked about the effect Cooper’s rant had on people, he brought up the old children’s verse of “Sticks and stones will break our bones, but words will never hurt us’’ and said he disagreed with it. “That’s not true,’’ Kelly said. “Words can hurt.’’
Yeah, but not like a Camaro traveling at 100 mph. But the Peters incident has been ignored even though it was potentially much more serious. Why? Well, it’s probably not a coincidence that Peters is an All-Pro left tackle and Cooper is a journeyman wide receiver. And, of course, racial issues are always volatile, especially since this one came so soon after the contentious and polarizing Trayvon Martin case.
So, sure, Cooper’s words hurt, but the only things injured by them are people’s feelings and sensibilities and those are easily repaired. And, once again, consider the source. There’s no question that what Cooper said was outrageous, but I refuse to get outraged by statements made by a drunken, belligerent knucklehead. Riley Cooper just isn’t worth it.
Contact Kevin Noonan at email@example.com.