Just one day after Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper apologized after video surfaced of him saying the N-word while threatening to fight someone at a country music concert last month, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams says he hopes the incident will be used as a ‘teachable moment.’
“Like all Philadelphians and Eagles fans everywhere I was very upset to watch the video of Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper and the racially incendiary words that he used, “ said Williams during a press conference today.
“(The Eagles) can use this as a teachable moment not only for him (Riley) but maybe the city as a whole to deal with racism, insensitive language…because often in my line of work those are fighting words and a lot happens when people use insensitive words in the wrong situation."
Williams says two members of the Eagles organization reached out to him and other city leaders last night for advice about what to do about the incident which made national headlines and sparked debate.
“This city loves the Eagles. All your radio shows, sports radio shows are talking about this today and nothing else,” said Williams. “I was appreciative that they reached out to me to suggest some charities and community based organizations and faith-based organizations that he might work with. That might be of great use and might make his ignorant behavior and repulsive behavior...maybe there could be a silver lining in his unfortunate words,” said Williams.
Williams said that Riley should expect backlash for his comments for some time.
“It won’t be over today I am sure he will hear a lot about it moving forward,” said Williams. “I think it’s important for him to learn and for him to talk to others about what he has learned. And hopefully that can help other people from making the same mistake. Because situations often in Philadelphia...when people use the wrong words go from just being a person can’t get somewhere at a concert to people in an emergency room.”
The Eagles released a statement this afternoon shortly after Williams' press conference.
“In meeting with Riley yesterday, we decided together that his next step will be to seek outside assistance to help him fully understand the impact of his words and actions. He needs to reflect. As an organization, we will provide the resources he needs to do so.”
Kenny Chesney, who's concert at the Linc served as the scene of Cooper's racist slur, also weighed in today saying he was stunned to see the video, according to CSNPhilly.com.
"I am as anyone to see the video of Riley Cooper that's started circulating on the internet,” Chesney told ESPN senior writer LZ Granderson. "I don't believe in discrimination in ANY form, and I think using language like that is not only unacceptable, it is hateful beyond words.”
"I'm disgusted and I'm sorry," Riley Cooper said during an emotional press conference Wednesday. "That's not the type of person I am."
Cooper attended a Chesney concert at Lincoln Financial Field in June. While at the concert, Cooper was involved in a confrontation in the parking lot. Video of Cooper confronting two men was released back on June 9 via Crossing Broad. While the footage shows the men yelling at each other, no punches were actually thrown.
On Wednesday, new video of Cooper from inside the concert surfaced. The video shows one of Cooper’s friends trying to calm him down as he angrily points towards someone in the crowd.
“I will jump that fence and fight every n***er here,” he says in the video.
According to Cooper, he was speaking to an African American security guard.
"There was a confrontation with me and one of the security guards," he said. "I'm not going to get into what happened. I said something that was actually disgusting and terrible. I shouldn't have handled it the way I handled it."
Cooper also admitted he had been drinking before the incident.
"I was drinking but that is no excuse for what I said and what I did," he said. "Absolutely not."
Cooper also said that Eagles owner Jeff Lurie, head coach Chip Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman fined him, though he did not say how much.
Lurie also released a statement in response to the video.
“We are shocked and appalled by Riley Cooper’s words," Lurie said. "This sort of behavior or attitude from anyone has no role in a civil society. He has accepted responsibility for his words and his actions. He has been fined for this incident.“
"It was a good amount of money but that's really not important," Cooper said. "The situation should not have been dealt with the way I dealt with it. I'm willing to accept all consequences."
Throughout the press conference, Cooper repeatedly apologized while insisting that the moment was out of character.
"I don't use that term," Cooper said. "I was raised way better than that. I've got a great mom and dad at home. They are disgusted by my actions. This is kind of the lowest of lows. This isn't the type of person that I am."
Cooper also said that he planned on reaching out to his African American teammates.
"I’m going to tell them exactly what I’m telling you guys, how extremely sorry I am and how I should have never said what I said," he said. "Most of the ones that know me know the type of person I am."
Later during the day, Michael Vick claimed he spoke with Cooper for 15 minutes and then addressed the team during an open dialogue session.
“Riley came to us as a man and apologized for what he did,” Vick said. “As a team we understood because we all make mistakes in life and we all do and say things that maybe we do mean and maybe we don’t mean. But as a teammate I forgave him. We understand the magnitude of the situation. We understand a lot of people may be hurt and offended, but I know Riley Cooper. I know him as a man. I’ve been with him for the last three years and I know what type of person he is. That’s what makes it easy, and at the same time, hard to understand. But easy to forgive him.”
"I still love him as a teammate and still look at him as one of my brothers," said Eagles defensive end Fletcher Cox.
"We all make mistakes and say things that we shouldn't say," said Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans. "We all just forgive him and brought it up as a team. That was the end of it."
Vick's brother Marcus appeared to have plenty to say about the video on his twitter account.
"Hey I'm putting a bounty on Riley's head," he tweeted. "1K to the first Free Safety or Strong Safety that light his a** up! Wake him up please."
Vick also tweeted, "Hahaha! Peace of s***. Who want to play on a team with guys like that? Riley Cooper you're a **** boy!!! Racist peace of s***."
Shortly after 8 p.m., however, Vick tweeted, "My page was hacked!" His previous tweets were then deleted.
Michael Vick spoke out against his brother's tweets.
"To address my brother's situation and what he's saying, I don't think it's really relevant,'' Vick said. "You can't allow yourself to be encumbered in what's going on. I don't agree with what my brother is saying. Riley is still my teammate and he just stood in front of us and apologized for what he said. Somewhere deep down you've got to find some level of respect for that. To people in the outside world who don't know how we're dealing with it, they're going to forge their own opinions, but my brother has to not show a certain level of ignorance himself.''
NBC10 spoke with Eagles fans about Cooper's comments. Their reactions were mixed.
"It's a racial slur," said Bobbi Jo. "It's going to hurt anyone."
"I feel some type of way because he's representing Philadelphia," said Mimi Finn.
Carl Jones however believes Cooper deserves a second chance.
"Everybody makes mistakes," he said. "I'm still gonna be a good fan of his."
A fifth-round pick out of Florida, Cooper is entering his fourth season in the NFL. He has 46 catches and five touchdowns in three years with the Eagles.
Cooper had tentatively moved into a starting role after Jeremy Maclin tore his right ACL in practice last Saturday. Still, he's not guaranteed a roster spot in Chip Kelly's new offense.
The NFL also released the following statement: "he NFL stands for diversity and inclusion. Comments like this are wrong, offensive, and unacceptable.''