Vick, in a piece written by Ian O’Connor of ESPN New York, revisited the turbulent time for the Eagles last summer after a video of Cooper using the N-word went viral.
We had guys talking about knocking him out, taking his head off, doing X, Y and Z to him on the field, and none of that happened, out of respect for myself, I think…
“I just felt like I was the most capable guy on that team of taking a stand for Riley, and being a voice for him at that time,” Vick said. Without taking that stand and being that voice, Vick maintained, the video of Cooper’s racial slur “was going to derail our team. Unfortunately, it was going to derail Riley’s career. It would have ended his career.”
“Guys were mad at me for a while,” he said of fellow Eagles. “They were upset with me for a day or two, like six or seven guys who were just like, ‘Really, how could you do that?’ And then I’m getting phone calls from people everywhere, and my Twitter page is kind of in an uproar. But I took that stand for him, man, and I just hope at the end of the day that he appreciates that.
Vick said Cooper did thank him for standing up for him at the time but says a text to the wideout this season went unanswered.
“A couple of things transpired since [the incident] that I dislike, and I’ll be honest with you,” Vick said. “After he signed his contract, I sent him a text and I never got a text back, and that made me feel a certain type of way. But I’m not the type of guy who holds grudges.”
Vick said he told his former teammate he was proud of him in the text that wasn’t returned. When it was suggested to him that any white player in Cooper’s shoes should owe the quarterback an eternal debt of gratitude, Vick said, “I’d have you on speed dial. That’s the only reason I say I hope Riley appreciates that. His life is his life and he played good football last year, and he was always like a little brother to me. But money should never change an individual, and I’m not saying it did that to Riley.”
Regardless, Vick called his actions amid the controversy “the best thing I’ve done as a professional athlete.”
“I handled it so my team could move forward, and I handled it so people could forget about it and not look at Riley a certain kind of way. I changed the whole dynamic of that situation, and that was a proud moment for me. … I was able to save a young man’s career, and that young man went on to have the greatest year of his career and get a contract that he probably never imagined he would get.”
Vick makes his return to Lincoln Financial Field tomorrow night and will get the start but is not expected to play for long.
Update: A source close to Vick said that Vick and Cooper spoke after the ESPN story came out and are “all good.”