Yesterday it was revealed that Philadelphia Eagles wideout Riley Cooper was caught on camera using a racial slur, saying that he would “fight any n***** in here” in public (at a Kenny Chesney concert of all places). The incident obviously caused a huge stir not only because of the fact that Cooper was on the camera using the most infamous word in the English language, but in the way in which he said it and the fact that he openly used the slur in a public venue like a concert.
Many people were waiting for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to make a statement on the issue and see if the league was going to take a stand on what is a very divisive issue. With the Eagles already fining Cooper, Goodell got out of the mess by using the technicality of the long NFL rulebook to keep the league’s hand in this mess clean and not involved.
During an appearance with Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic on ESPN Radio, Goodell said that Cooper’s words were offensive and unacceptable and that he was glad that the Eagles disciplined Cooper with both a fine and “training” designed to address the situation. He also explained why the league would not be adding any further punishment to the plate.
“We do not penalize at the club level and league level for same incident,” Goodell said. “We will not be taking action separately from the club.”
Goodell was also asked about the league’s feeling that Cooper’s words were wrong and offensive when they have had no objection to the continued use of Redskins as the nickname for Washington’s team.
“I don’t see a comparison,” Goodell said. “That’s a name that has always represented pride, heritage, tradition; the things that, I think, have made Redskins fans so proud of that name. And they have always presented the Redskins in a positive light. We have to continue to be open and continue to listen, but we also want to make sure we’re doing what’s right to encourage that heritage and that pride we have in the Redskins name.”
It is no surprise that the NFL could find a difference between a racial slur directed at black people and a racial slur directed at Native Americans, a smaller amount of the US population and therefore a minority group that wouldn’t take a significant chunk out of league revenue if they boycotted the league due to their lack of political correctness. Still it is disheartening to see Goodell sneak out of any sort of real stance on the issue of a white NFL player appearing to be visibly aggressive and racist on camera in a public place.
Riley Cooper is a young man who made a mistake, but Roger Goodell is a intellectual who has been entrusted with a business that rolls billions of dollars in revenues and knows what happened was really, really, wrong. Shame on him for trying to sweep the situation under the rug.