Home » Blog » Cooper Exits Eagles Camp: Will He Return?

Cooper Exits Eagles Camp: Will He Return?


The situation in Philadelphia is rapidly deteriorating for Riley Cooper

On the Wednesday edition of ESPN’s NFL Live, commentator Merrill Hoge was asked if he thought Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper would weather the storm after a video of him using a racial slur surfaced earlier in the week.

He was emphatic that the situation would blow over and insisted it would be business as usual within the locker room, sooner rather than later. Fellow commentator Tim Hasselbeck was not quite as adamant as Hoge, though ultimately he agreed that boiling tensions would quickly fade to a simmer. Still uncomfortable, but tolerable for the most part.

Also on the panel was former NFL coach Herm Edwards, who was uncharacteristically mum throughout the discussion. He didn’t need to speak—the skeptical look on his face said it all. It should also be noted that Edwards was the only black panelist on the show, which made his silence all the more conspicuous.

By Friday’s episode the full gravity of the  situation seemed to have finally dawned on Hoge. After word spread that Cooper had left training camp indefinitely to attend counseling, his tone on the matter had shifted drastically from confidently optimistic about Cooper’s future with the team to admitting it was now tenuous at best.

This time Edwards was in full agreement and he got to say everything it looked like he was holding back two days prior. Neither he nor Hoge expressed even a modicum of certainty that Cooper could ever return to the NFL, let alone the Eagles.

The situation in Philadelphia has deteriorated rapidly for the embattled wide receiver. After receiving immediate public support from teammate Michael Vick, it soon became clear that the rest of the Eagles there weren’t going to be as quick to forgive.

Footage from training camp this week showed Cooper jogging to the sideline in between drills and standing all alone. He didn’t speak or interact with his teammates in any way. Physically they were all occupying the same space, but there might as well have been an ocean between them.

Running back LeSean McCoy told the NFL Network’s Albert Breer that he “can’t respect a guy like that,” adding that it hurt “losing a friend.” Another unnamed player said that he was “sickened” by Cooper’s words and would be unable to forgive him.

Vick told ESPN that a lot of guys are “hurting right now” and are “shocked and appalled” by the language used in the video. After talking about second chances, he seemed to backtrack on his initial support for Cooper, saying “I tried to defuse it for a day, but I can’t make it go away. I can’t do that. It’s too big.”

There’s no one who knows that locker room better than Vick, so if he says it’s too big, it’s probably too big.

As difficult was it was for Cooper to be at Eagles training camp this past week, it will be even more difficult to return a second time. And if he can’t make inroads with the people he’s been playing with for years, it’s hard to imagine that he’ll have any luck with a locker room of relative strangers in the future.

Have we seen the last of Riley Cooper in the NFL? It’s quite possible.

  • 100%