PHILADELPHIA -- On the Philadelphia Eagles’ second offensive drive against New England, Michael Vick was in the shotgun with an empty backfield. He rolled right and then hit wide receiver Riley Cooper for a 19-yard gain. The crowd’s reaction: some boos, but more cheers.
This game at Lincoln Financial Field was the first real opportunity for Eagles fans to let Cooper know how they feel about him using a racial slur at a Kenny Chesney concert in June. The reaction from the less-than-capacity crowd was tame.
Cooper took the field on the Eagles’ opening possession. He stood to Vick’s right in the huddle. Vick did not target Cooper, but after Vick found DeSean Jackson in the end zone on a perfectly thrown 47-yard pass, Cooper celebrated with Jackson in the end zone. The two receivers jumped simultaneously into the air, turned their backs to each other and bumped backs. Later, after Vick had taken a seat on the Eagles' bench next to Jason Avant and Jackson, Cooper walked over and tapped Vick on the helmet.
Last week video emerged of Cooper using a racial slur. Several of his African-American teammates were offended. Cooper practiced the next day but was shunned by many teammates. He talked to no one. One day later, Eagles coach Chip Kelly announced that Cooper had taken a leave of absence to speak to a counselor to help him understand the impact of what he had said. Cooper also went to Florida to see his parents.
Cooper returned to the Eagles on Tuesday and participated in three joint practices with the Patriots leading up to Friday night’s game. Kelly has said that Cooper’s job is not in jeopardy because of the slur.