Many Eagles teammates say they forgive Cooper

"It's not a coach Reid thing. It's a player-personality and character problem. I'm talking about guys [not] buying into the system," Jason Avant said. (Tony Gutierrez/AP)
"It's not a coach Reid thing. It's a player-personality and character problem. I'm talking about guys [not] buying into the system," Jason Avant said. (Tony Gutierrez/AP)
Posted: August 02, 2013

DeMeco Ryans said he did not think Riley Cooper's racial slur, caught on video and posted online Wednesday, would rip apart an Eagles team that includes several new players, many of them African American.

"I don't think it will fracture the team," the linebacker said.

Most of the players who spoke after Cooper addressed the team and apologized at the NovaCare Complex had been teammates of the wide receiver for the last three seasons.

"Most of the ones that know me, which excludes the rookies coming in, they know the kind of person I am," said Cooper, who was fined by the team.

Although all the players interviewed said they forgave Cooper, some admitted that they were still trying to come to grips with what he said.

"Does it hurt? Yes, it does," wide receiver Jason Avant said. "But I still will deal with it as a Christian and I will always err on the side of mercy."

During a Kenny Chesney concert at Lincoln Financial Field in June, Cooper got into an apparent altercation with an African American security guard and said, "I will jump that fence and fight every n- here."

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, who said he forgave his teammate, was asked if he thought Cooper knew the history of the slur he used.

"I think he does," Vick said. "I think anybody who uses a certain word in a certain way has to know what they're saying. Riley's a smart guy."

Ryans, who joined the Eagles last season, said that he could not possibly know what Cooper really believed, but added that he would judge his teammate based on his interactions with him.

"You just go by what he said and the type of guy he is around here with us," Ryans said. "Riley is cool. He's friendly to everybody. We all hang out, laugh, have fun together as all teammates do."

Avant said there were some Eagles who may need days, weeks, or months to forgive Cooper.

"It's not some kind of sweep-under-theā€“rug thing," the veteran receiver said. "We are family. Everything is tight-knit. There are certain things that we deal with amongst each other. With that being said, there's no place for that, anyway, anyhow, anywhere."

Avant, who has worked closely with the receiver, said he did not think Cooper was a racist. He mentioned the way Cooper acted toward receiver Jeremy Maclin, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on Saturday.

"When Jeremy Maclin got hurt, the first person there is Riley Cooper," Avant said. "The first person that's holding his lunch in line, the first person that's getting his towel for him when he's getting out of shower, is Riley."

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