LeSean McCoy has been as candid as anyone when it comes to Riley Cooper. Where several of his teammates rallied around the receiver publicly after his racial slur at a Kenny Chesney concert went viral, McCoy allowed his raw emotions to show and admitted that he had lost some respect for his one-time friend.
According to several Eagles players, including Cooper himself, the scuffle between Cary Williams and Cooper was unrelated to anything that went down this summer, and was more about two competitors getting after it. However, according to a report from Jeff McLane, Williams said to Cooper more than once, “I’m not a n- you [mess] with” during the spat.
Either way, the conversation has bubbled back up to the surface. And once again, McCoy took it head on.
“In the beginning when the whole situation happened, guys were different to him and didn’t really speak to him. They really didn’t know how to take it,” said McCoy. “But now, it seems like normal again. He’s interacting with every guy — the offense, the defense, myself. I made some comments about Riley, and then actually now I kind of focus on the old Riley that I knew before the incident, and that’s kind of where I get the satisfaction of, ‘You know, he’s a good guy.’ There is no difference between me and him and other guys.”
Cooper addressed the media after practice (Williams declined to do so) and said that there have been no issues with his teammates.
So things have kind of normalized internally?
“Kind of? They are completely…they have been normal. It’s been great,” said Cooper. “Everything’s been great. Everything is completely, 100 percent normal, talking to everybody, everybody talking to me. We’re all real close — everybody, Cary included. He’s my boy. We’re both in the NFL. We’re both super-competitive. We both want the ball. On one-on-ones, he wants to have a pick, I want to have a reception and that’s just what it is.”
While Cooper’s take on the locker room dynamics sound overly-rosy, the sense we get is that the team has basically moved on and accepted Cooper as a teammate.
How he is treated by the opposing team is a different matter entirely. Cooper was asked if was given any grief this preseason.
“Oh, no. Uh-uh. I haven’t gotten one comment from any other team. No comments. Nothing.”
Not true, says McCoy.
“I think for sure a lot of guys are going to try and do dirty things to him. Obviously they are going to say things to get under his skin,” he said. “For one, they are opponents so they are going to try and do anything to get the advantage. And two, I think maybe some of the words that he did say offended a lot of guys. We definitely have his back. We’re not blind to the fact of what’s going on, so sure a couple of guys will take their shots at him. Even in preseason guys said different things, small things. He’s got to be open with it and understand that’s the kind of consequence that goes along with that. Like you said, the other teams don’t know Riley like we do.
“Anytime there is something extra on the field, kind of a fight on the field between Riley and another teammate, or another opponent, that’s the first thing that’s going to come up,” added McCoy, “especially if the guy’s black.”
Thursday’s dust-up came when Williams was covering Cooper during one-on-one drills. After the play, they stood toe-to-toe jawing at one another. It turned physical and some slaps were thrown at each others’ helmets. Brandon Boykin jumped in to help separate the two.
As Cooper walked away, Williams ripped off his helmet, tossed it to the ground and began pursuing him, but was blocked by Michael Vick.
The cornerback was sent off the field to cool down and was seen pacing on the sidelines. Cooper was talked to by DeSean Jackson and an assistant coach before rejoining the drill.
“Fighting ain’t going to win us a game Monday night,” said Jackson, “so that’s the biggest thing regardless of what is going on. We have to play a game Monday night so in practice doing things together as far as camaraderie is what we need instead of the opposite, people fighting. Going over there and talking to both of them, I was just letting them know that we have a game to plan for.”
Vick struck the same tone when asked about the scuffle.
“Our maturity level’s gotta be on a whole different plane. Regardless of who the catalyst was for the whole fight, that doesn’t matter,” said Vick, via Les Bowen. “We’ve gotta be men. We’re not guys who are out on the street, fighting one another. We’re teammates … It’s game week. We don’t have time for that. I don’t. It’s a distraction.”
Boykin said Williams and Cooper went against one another in practice “six, seven times after that” without incident. It was a heated moment and it is done with, it appears. But, as McCoy said, the conversation will come up again. It’s just the reality of the situation.
Video below, courtesy of Comcast SportsNet.
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