Cary Williams sat in a chair in the media relations office, elbows on his knees, head down, the brim of his hat down near his eyes. Little eye contact as he sifted through the various emotions that have been aroused over the last 24 hours.
“It’s not my place to cast judgment down on him because I’ve done wrong, I’ve said some wrong things, and that’s just part of the learning process, part of growing up and becoming a man,” said Williams following Thursday’s practice. “But the most important thing is he was able to stand up to his wrong-doing, he was able to admit, and he is going to take the consequences as they come.”
Then, the next wave.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow because you have this perception of a guy and I don’t know if it necessarily changes the perception of him, but it definitely puts a damper to my spirits at least as to what type of person he is.I’m more cautious now to approach him. I don’t know what he does in his free time because I haven’t hung out with him, but as far as like in the locker room he seemed like a pretty cool dude. He didn’t seem like a racist. I think he just made a mistake.”
One of the problems facing Riley Cooper is that almost half of the players on this roster are new to the team. Where some veterans might have fuller picture of who Cooper is as a person, guys like Williams don’t have a whole lot to go off.
“The guys that know Riley and are a little bit closer to him, I think it may be a little easier for them,” said Chip Kelly. “But there are also some guys that have just met him and just got here, and they’re still trying to wrap their arms around it. And I don’t think this is a situation that’s gonna go away tomorrow. And we certainly understand it.”
Williams was careful not to get carried away as a result of a single incident. He pointed out that he was kicked out of school because of words he said to a coach. Cooper is not the only member of this team that has had an unflattering moment.
But the team is definitely still working through their emotions.
“It’s tough to get through. I don’t know him but I did see the tape, and it’s disheartening for a guy to say something like that,” said Williams. “You’re angry, but I just feel there are several other words he could have said. Use a different explicit word. But he just used something that was just over the top.
“I try to put myself in the security guard’s shoes, I don’t see nothing but caucasians out there, and for him to say that — he may be the only lone black guy in that section. From what I’ve seen it was just him. I’m sure it hurt him to hear it. But I’m a forgiving person and I know I’m far from perfect, so we can’t necessarily throw the book at the guy or disown him and say, ‘He’s not my teammate.’ He’s still a guy that I think is still going to help this team. I just think he’s facing a tough situation right now and we can get through it eventually in time. But for right now it’s fresh, it’s new to everybody.”