One of the arguments many people have made against the Philadelphia Eagles cutting DeSean Jackson is the team’s decision to keep Riley Cooper. After the season, the Eagles signed Cooper to a five-year, $25 million contract. Apparently his racist outburst from last summer is a thing of the past.
Jackson, on the other hand, was released shortly after a report surfaced indicating he has connections to members of a gang in Los Angeles. In a column he wrote for Monday Morning Quarterback on Wednesday, Richard Sherman defended Jackson for not alienating the people he grew up around who supported him when his father passed away in 2009. He also implied that race played a role in the Eagles’ decision to cut Jackson.
This offseason they re-signed a player who was caught on video screaming, “I will fight every n—– here.” He was representing the Philadelphia Eagles when he said it, because, of course, everything we do is reflective of the organization. But what did they do to Riley Cooper, who, if he’s not a racist, at least has “ties” to racist activity? They fined him and sent him to counseling. No suspension necessary for Cooper and no punishment from the NFL, despite its new interest in policing our use of the N-word on the field.
Commit certain crimes in this league and be a certain color, and you get help, not scorn. Look at the way many in the media wrote about Jim Irsay after his DUI arrest. Nobody suggested the Colts owner had “ties” to drug trafficking, even though he was caught driving with controlled substances (prescription pills) and $29,000 in cash to do who-knows-what with. Instead, poor millionaire Mr. Irsay needs help, some wrote.
Sherman makes some very valid points, especially regarding Irsay. The amount of cash the Colts owner had in his possession could easily be viewed as gang-related or drug dealing activity if he was somebody else.
As for Cooper, you can understand why it looks bad that the Eagles chose to send a white player to counseling after his racist tirade. The only thing I would say about that is that situations like the Aaron Hernandez murder trial have made teams increasingly paranoid when they hear the word “gang.” If a white player reportedly had ties to a gang, you would probably see the team react the same way.
I believe the risk of gang involvement currently has NFL teams on high alert, whether the claims are founded or not. That said, Sherman presented a very well-thought argument that certainly makes you think.