Eagles coach Chip Kelly could end up having to make an extremely difficult decision this season in regards to either Cary Williams or Riley Cooper. The recent scuffle between Cooper and Williams may be more deeply rooted than Williams just being a hot-head.
While it’s true that Williams has a temper and gets into physical altercations more than the average NFL player, it’s what he apparently said to Cooper that has me a little concerned.
According to Jeff McLane, who cited a “nearby player” as the source, Williams responded to Cooper by saying: “I’m not a [n-word] you mess with” during the heated confrontation in practice.
Williams was obviously very ticked-off, as evidenced by the quickness and tenacity in which he started throwing punches and dropped his helmet to come after Cooper while yelling the above stated words.
In essence, it seems as though Williams took what Cooper said at the Kenny Chesney concert personally. Williams likes to fight and Cooper declared he’d fight anyone, therefore it was just a matter of time before this happened.
To me, it’s a clear indication that Williams still hasn’t forgiven Cooper for the racial slur he used at the Chesney concert. If he hasn’t, that’s okay, I am not saying that everyone should have forgiven him by now…if ever.
Williams was also one of the more vocal guys about the incident and his initial reaction through the media back in early August was:
“It’s one of those things that definitely hit home for me,” Williams said. “And I’m one of those guys that definitely was offended with what was said
The problem is, the team is trying to put that issue behind them and not have it be a continued distraction within the team. Cooper will no doubt have a few run-ins with players from other teams this season and will certainly hear some chatter on the field.
However, it can no longer happen with teammates. If it does, it will be a distraction of huge proportions and can ultimately be cancerous to the team.
Williams is still obviously simmering over the confrontation by his refusal to address reporters the past couple days. Eventually he’ll have to talk about it and will probably say the right things.
But, the question will remain as to whether or not he can restrain himself from lashing out due to any further personal issue he has with Cooper throughout the rest of the season.
If he can’t, it could ultimately put Chip Kelly in a bind.
If this becomes a real issue, Kelly may have to decide if he has to let one of these guys go. Then, the question would become: which one?
If he chose to release Williams, he could be persecuted for cutting a player who was personally offended by a teammate that used a racial slur. In other words, Cooper caused the issue but Williams gets cut because he couldn’t keep his emotions in check?
If he cut Cooper, there would be fewer questions and no chance of being persecuted, but he would be cutting a guy that made a mistake with a word that he chose to use while on his personal time.
Cooper has also done everything he could possibly do to make amends. Should he be punished because one guy can’t let it go? At the same time, how can you punish someone for having an emotional reaction to something that personally offended them?
Hopefully, this will not fester through the season. Hopefully, this was just Williams being Williams and this was all he needed to get his harbored anger towards Cooper out of his system.
Maybe now that he lashed out he’ll feel better and be able to keep a lid on it. Or, maybe he’s really just the kind of guy that has a lot of anger and can’t let things go.
Time will tell.