While it seems as if the public outrage and extensive scrutiny directed towards Philadelphia Eagles WR Riley Cooper’s ignorant and aggressive use of an all-too-familiar racial slur has dissipated, you can rest assured that Cooper is far from forgiven in the eyes of many NFL fans, analysts and players alike.
There are plenty of misgivings committed on a regular basis by a litany of professional athletes every year; including arrests, social media debacles, infidelity (sorry, Tiger) and general rifts with coaches as well as teammates. And for some reason, sports fans are incredibly quick to forgive their favorite athletes almost immediately as long as they are still able to perform on the field.
But racism is a whole different issue.
The use of racial slurs and any sort of discriminatory behavior should not, and will not, be tolerated in the arena of professional sports. And this is not limited to athletes while they’re on the field, but instead it extends outside the lines into everyday life as well.
Especially in this day and age, where everybody is a journalist and everybody has a video camera or cell phone primed and ready to catch anything they can on tape. So as a public figure, Cooper has to know that anything he says or does off the field can easily be captured and broadcast to the nation.
I will say that Cooper has seemed genuine in his apologies, but the manner in which he used the word still lingers in the back of my mind, and prevents me from exonerating him from scrutiny. He didn’t say the word in a joking or playful manner; he said it with an obvious intent to demoralize, and seemed to have a disgusting, seemingly passionate tone behind it.
Because there are currently so many headlines around the NFL with the 2013 preseason underway, the hoopla surrounding Cooper has certainly quieted down in recent weeks.
But I can guarantee you that Cooper will never, and should never, hear the end of it from opponents, and possibly even teammates, for the remainder of his NFL career.