Eagles Could Have Faced Union Grievance If They Had Cut Riley Cooper For Racial Epithet
The Eagles could have "immediately cut" WR Riley Cooper after video surfaced on the Internet Wednesday of him using a racial epithet, but "doing so wasn't that simple from a financial standpoint," according to Alex Marvez of FOXSPORTS.com. If the Eagles had released Cooper, he could have "filed a grievance against the franchise" for his '13 base salary of $630,000 through the NFLPA. The Eagles instead "fined Cooper an undisclosed amount and issued a statement condemning his behavior." Under terms of the CBA, the Eagles could have "released Cooper under the premise of 'conduct detrimental to the team,'" relieving the Eagles of having to pay Cooper's salary. But the union "could have filed a grievance upon Cooper’s request" claiming that releasing Cooper was a "'severe and unprecedented' step that violated his rights." NFLPA Assistant Exec Dir of External Affairs George Atallah said, "It would be a much different scenario if Riley does something like this on the field or in the locker room or workplace" (FOXSPORTS.com, 8/1). In Philadelphia, Zach Berman notes Eagles coach Chip Kelly "learned about what happened when Cooper came to his office Wednesday afternoon." Cooper apologized to Kelly and "accepted full responsibility." He asked to "speak with the team, which Kelly said Cooper could do before the evening walk-through." Cooper then met with Owner Jeffrey Lurie and GM Howie Roseman. Kelly, Lurie, and Roseman "convened afterward and consulted with the league office" about punishment. That is when they "determined to levy a fine and that Cooper needed outside counseling." They "did not consult with the players before making their decision" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/2).
NOT GOING FAR ENOUGH: In Philadelphia, Phil Sheridan wrote the Eagles used "tepid discipline" in fining Cooper. After meeting with Lurie, Roseman and Kelly -- "three white men -- Cooper got off with a fine." A suspension would have been "more appropriate," and releasing Cooper from the team "would have been within reason." The message "would be clear, that racism simply is not tolerated by the Eagles or the NFL." Now the message is that racism "will cost you a few bucks" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/1). SPORTING NEWS' David Steele wrote under the header, "It's Fair To Say Eagles Should Have Cut Riley Cooper." Cooper needs to "make peace with himself," and the Eagles "should have let him work through that by himself, by releasing him." Steele: "Why didn’t they cut him? ... Don’t think that they wouldn’t have if Jeremy Maclin were not on crutches right now" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 8/1). SPORTS ON EARTH's Shaun Powell wrote under the header, "The Eagles Should Let Cooper Go" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 8/1). At least one prominent Eagles player "questioned the punishment." The player said, "I'll tell you one thing, if it was Andy Reid, he would have gotten more than a fine" (PHILLY.com, 8/1). But USA TODAY's Jarrett Bell writes the Eagles, starting at the top with Lurie, are to be "commended for acting swiftly in what is the first crisis" under Kelly (USA TODAY, 8/2). Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said he "liked the way the Eagles handled it rather swiftly" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 8/1).
LEAGUE SHOULD HAVE DONE MORE: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday said the league would not discipline Cooper beyond the fine from the Eagles because the league "does not penalize at the club level and the league level for the same incident” ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 8/1). ESPN's Michael Wilbon said while Goodell "likes to use his bully pulpit for things that interest him, I guess a white player using the 'n-word' aggressively … is not important for Roger Goodell." Wilbon noted NBA Commissioner David Stern "would never have stood for this in the NBA." Goodell's "lack of conviction offends me as much as, if not more, as Riley Cooper's use of the 'n-word.'" ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "I need more from the league. ... This was a chance for the NFL to define itself against such slurs. Moments like this of possible definition don't come around all the time." Kornheiser said Goodell's decision to "hide behind rule and policy to me is inadequate because if you're a strong commissioner, you make rule and policy" ("PTI," ESPN, 8/1). ESPN's Pablo Torre said he "would have liked to have seen the NFL do something more." The league had an "opportunity here to have a top-down policy and Roger Goodell, obviously, uses his bully pulpit for many things." Torre: "He has a zero-tolerance policy for so much. I would have liked to have seen it come from the top and just make clear this is not allowed." Columnist Kevin Blackistone said the NFL "should have done more." He said, "It's done more in the past. ... Other leagues have done more" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 8/1).