Something good from the Riley Cooper saga?
I have been searching for something good to say about the ugly scenario that unfolded yesterday afternoon involving Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper.
It's not easy.
To review, Cooper, who is now in line to be a starting wideout for Chip Kelly's Eagles now that Jeremy Maclin has gone down for the year with a knee injury, was caught on camera using the one word that you simply cannot use.
The N-Word. The most divisive, ugly, racial expletive in our vocabulary.
The story exploded after the video was first posted on the local Crossing Broad sports blog.
The video depicts Cooper in an angry confrontation with an unseen African-American security guard. It was taken on a cell phone from a Kenny Chesney concert at the Linc back in June.
I was struck by a couple of things in the video. First and foremost, this was not a casual reference. It wasn't dropped by mistake, or in music lyrics, or even in jest.
This was an angry white man, using it to target and belittle a black man.
After the story exploded, Cooper was correctly apologetic, talking about his shame and embarrassment. He met the media and fell on his sword. He was fined by the team.
It reminds me of a couple of things. One, as I'm reminded of almost every day, is just how much of our lives is now being captured by video. Surveillance cameras are everywhere. But even more prying are the ubiquitous smart phones that we use every day.
Second, it reminds me of just how far this country still needs to go when it comes to race. Don't believe me? Just wallow into the comments posted with many of the stories on DelcoTimes.com every day. Or listen to the multitude of white folks who simply can't seem to grasp the history of hurt this one word contains. And who are blind to the fact that a black person uttering this word is entirely different from a white person who does the same. It just is.
And save me the horrors of a black person referring to a white person as a "cracker" or something else. Again the history, what African-Americans in this country have endured, is just not the same. I'm not surprised that so many people don't understand this, considering the way so many of them reacted to President Obama's comments on race in the wake of the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial.
So what about that good to come out of this story? I did find something. And, once again, in a place I did not expect it.
If there is one person who likely knew how Riley Cooper felt when he stepped in front of those microphones yesterday, it was Michael Vick, albeit for an entirely different reason.
Vick was even more reviled than Cooper when he arrived in Philadelphia fresh off a two-year stint in federal prison for running a dog-fighting operation.
Michael Vick also is black.
I was once again impressed at the way Vick reacted last night, sounding a note of forgiveness, of the team coming together, supporting Riley and moving forward.
The same thing was mentioned by several other African-American members of the team.
Granted, these are all millionaires who have a vested interest in the team and what they do on the field, not necessarily off it.
But I'm not sure we all couldn't take a lesson in how they reacted.
If not for the ugly initial comments made by Cooper that struck an old nerve, but one that is just as raw as ever.