Philadelphia Eagles player Riley Cooper is back at practice after a brief leave of absence from the team, following a racial slur he made in a video that went viral.
The embattled wide receiver said that he’s spoken with each of his teammates individually, asking them not to forgive him, but to judge him by his future.
“I talked to everyone individually,” he said. “I told them, ‘I don’t want you to forgive me, because that puts the burden on you. I want it all on me.'”
“I told them that and I told them I apologize. They could tell it was from the heart, they know I’m not that kind of person. It feels good to have support.”
He added that he felt that “100 percent” of his teammates supported him, something he sensed on the field in his return to Eagles training camp.
“It felt good to be out there with the guys, catching and running and making plays and them coming up to you, supporting you,” Riley Cooper added.
“High-fiving you, chest-bumping you like Jason Avant did in the end zone when I had that TD … It just felt good to be back out here with the guys.”
The Eagles excused him Friday and sent him for sensitivity training after video of his remark, made at a June Kenny Chesney concert, surfaced last week.
His goal now is to earn the respect back from his teammates.
“Absolutely, just by my actions,” Cooper said of his goal. “Don’t judge me for the past, more so the future and just watch my daily moves and what I’m doing.”
Fellow wide receiver Avant, among the team leaders spotlighted by coach Chip Kelly, said that the Eagles are more or less over the situation as a team.
“I think you guys [the media] need the healing process more than the team,” Avant said. “You guys got to cover it, so you keeping going, making the story go.”
“As far as our team, I think guys are definitely over it and we talked, we’ve had dialogue, we’ve accepted his apology. The only thing he can do is apologize.”
“What else can he do? When a situation happens like that, there’s not too many things you can do but apologize and be sincere. Now you guys have to get over it.”
Asked whether or not a situation could arise where the team would part ways with Cooper due to the fallout from the situation, Kelly squashed the notion.
“I don’t see that happening,” he said. “After talking to our players, I think our players really understand the situation … I don’t envision that happening.”
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement Tuesday that Cooper’s slur was “totally unacceptable” but that the receiver was working to regain trust.
“Riley has apologized to the team and community and has made a personal commitment to work hard to try and gain their trust and earn his position on the team,” Lurie said.