The Eagles took the practice field a little after 12 o’clock Friday, and did so without embattled wide receiver Riley Cooper.
The team announced this afternoon that Cooper has been excused from all team activities as he seeks counseling. This has led many to believe that Cooper’s time in Philadelphia has come to an end.
However, this move is not being viewed by the Eagles as a precursor to a release. The plan, as of now, is to bring Cooper back once his counseling is completed. No timetable has been provided.
The Eagles and Cooper agreed to the counseling when the initial punishment of a fine was handed down on Wednesday evening. The logistics of how to get him that help were ironed out over the last day or so. It requires him to miss time.
The receiver released the following statement on Friday:
“The last few days have been incredibly difficult for me,” it reads. “My actions were inexcusable. The more I think about what I did, the more disgusted I get. I keep trying to figure out how I could have said something so repulsive, and what I can do to make things better.
“Right now, I think it’s important for me to take some time to reflect on this situation. The organization and my teammates have been extremely supportive, but I also realize that there are people who will have a tough time forgiving me for what I’ve done. The best thing for me, and for the team, is to step away for a period of time.
“During this time I’m going to be speaking with a variety of professionals to help me better understand how I could have done something that was so offensive, and how I can start the healing process for everyone. As long as it takes, and whatever I have to do, I’m going to try to make this right.”
Ultimately, Cooper’s fate may be decided by his teammates. If he is accepted, then he would likely stay with the team. If they cannot get past the issue, the Eagles might have to act. This story line is constantly evolving, but the plan for now is to bring Cooper back into the fold eventually.