Despite Blowback, Kelly Says No Regrets On Cooper Decision

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

It was around this time two years ago that Chip Kelly and the Eagles decided to bring Riley Cooper back in the fold.

As he took the podium to address their chosen course, Kelly acknowledged that “there is a concern” about Cooper’s comments at a Kenny Chesney concert dividing the locker room, and said he knew this was not a situation that could just be swept under the rug.

“I think it’s gonna take some time…I don’t think this is a situation that’s gonna go away tomorrow,” he said. “And we certainly understand it.”

The argument can be made that Kelly is still dealing with the blowback from that decision to this day in some respects.

The head coach was asked to reflect on the move to stand by Cooper at Tuesday’s press conference.

“I think that Riley made a mistake; that’s part of it. And we all backed him,” he said. “Michael [Vick] backed him, Jason Avant backed him. I think that’s part of being in an organization and a team. I look at that as a specific incident. He was 100 percent wrong and those are things that should never be said and I hope he learned his lesson. I think he regrets what he did that day every single day. I see that in him. But do I regret what we did in terms of how we handled Riley? No, we don’t.”

Do you feel that there is a connection between that decision and the comments made by some former employees this offseason?

“There could be,” he said, “but literally I don’t spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to connect ‘x’ to ‘y’ to ‘z’ and all those other things. We have other things that we need to take care of.”

Brandon Boykin was the latest former Eagle to criticize Kelly’s on his way out the door, telling Derrick Gunn that he believes the coach is “uncomfortable around grown men of our culture.” Boykin later clarified his comments, saying he didn’t feel like he and Kelly were able to relate to one another off the field. “There were times he just didn’t talk to people. You would walk down the hallway, he wouldn’t say anything to you. I’m not saying he’s a racist in any way,” said Boykin.

“No,” said Kelly when asked if he was concerned about that perception in the locker room, and if it was something he needed to address with the players. “We have an open door policy. I had a long talk with Brandon last spring. He came in and sat down and talked with me. You can come talk to me whenever you want to come talk to me. But we also have a pretty structured day where guys are in meetings. I don’t just sit and walk around and say, ‘Let me go and grab him and let’s sit down and have a coffee together.’ When they get here, they’re doing stuff. Especially in the offseason we’re limited with our time. You get guys for four hours, there’s not a time we’re all sitting around, holding hands singing ‘Kumbaya’ together. We’re in meeting rooms, we’re getting stuff done. They’re in the weight room, they’re getting stuff done. They’re in the training field getting stuff done and then they’re outta there. I think maybe if they expand our time where we could spend more time but I don’t think it’s different than any other head coaches in terms of where you are.”

Do you treat every player the same or differently based on personalities?

“I think I treat everybody how we should be treated, I think,” he said. “We respect everybody.”