Dressed in an orange polo, blue mesh shorts and flip-flops, Riley Cooper got behind the mic for six minutes, 31 seconds Thursday and tried to explain himself.
A couple hours earlier, an Eagles media relations staffer had shown him the video that captured the Eagles’ wide receiver saying he’d “fight every [N-word] here” while at a Kenny Chesney concert last month. Now, with the bricks of the NovaCare Complex as his background, it was time for Cooper to face the music.
“There was a confrontation with me and one of the security guards,” he said. “I’m not gonna get into what happened, but I said something that was absolutely disgusting and terrible. And I should not have handled it the way I handled it.”
Cooper later confirmed that the security guard was African-American and admitted that he had been drinking.
Before he spoke to reporters, he had already met with owner Jeffrey Lurie, GM Howie Roseman and head coach Chip Kelly. The punishment had already been handed down: Cooper was fined “a good amount of money,” he said. But no suspension or other punishment is coming from the team.
“He said, ‘Go out and face this,’” Cooper said, when asked what Kelly told him. “And tell them exactly what you just told me, how sorry you are for what you said.”
Lurie released a statement through the team.
“We are shocked and appalled by Riley Cooper’s words,” he said. “This sort of behavior or attitude from anyone has no role in a civil society.”
While the Eagles have already decided on a punishment, Cooper will have to wait and see if the league takes any action.
“The NFL stands for diversity and inclusion,” an NFL spokesman said in an e-mail. “Comments like this are wrong, offensive, and unacceptable.”
Cooper’s biggest hurdle will be facing his teammates, something he has yet to do.
“It’s going to be very difficult for me,” Cooper said. “I’m gonna tell them I’m extremely sorry, tell them exactly what I’m telling you guys. There was a confrontation, and I just handled it extremely, extremely poorly.”
Asked if he has used the N-word in other instances, Cooper said, “I don’t use that. Like I said, I was raised way better than that.”
The Eagles are scheduled to practice again Friday afternoon. As Kelly continues on with his first training camp as an NFL head coach, his players will be peppered with questions about Cooper and his standing on the team.
“This is kind of the lowest of lows,” Cooper said. “This isn’t the type of person I want to be portrayed as. This isn’t the type of person that I am. And I’m just extremely sorry.”