PHILADELPHIA -- At the admitted risk of beating a dead horse here, there was one more thought worth discussing on the topic of Chip Kelly and race.
The topic was perhaps overdiscussed this week after former Eagles running back LeSean McCoy told ESPN The Magazine that Kelly “got rid of all the black players” during his offseason shakeup. Of course, Kelly also acquired a number of African-American players, including DeMarco Murray, who was signed to replace McCoy.
Part of McCoy’s point seemed to be that Kelly doesn’t like outspoken or defiant black players. It seems more fair to say that he doesn’t especially care for outspoken or defiant players of any race. Kelly is trying to build a culture around the Eagles, and it certainly helps that effort if players buy in to what he’s doing.
Case in point: Cary Williams. Williams is African-American. Williams has been the most outspoken player in the Eagles’ locker room for the past two years. Williams is the one who got into a fight during the Eagles’ joint practices with the Patriots. He’s the one who skipped voluntary workouts two years ago to shop for sconces for the home he was building.
Most notably, Williams was the guy who declared (after a game the Eagles won, by the way) that Kelly’s uptempo practices were having an impact on the players. They were tired by Sunday and it was making it difficult to compete with fresher teams.
The next day, Williams drove to the NovaCare Complex and had a one-on-one meeting with Kelly. The two men cleared the air. Williams addressed the team at a meeting on Tuesday and the incident was over with. Williams was back in the starting lineup the following week.
That whole episode is worth reviewing in the wake of McCoy’s comments. Kelly released Williams in March. But, like McCoy, Williams was going to have a very high salary-cap number in 2015. That $8.17 million cap charge was awfully high for a player who was part of the league’s worst secondary for the past two seasons.
To replace Williams, Kelly signed Seattle Seahawks cornerback Byron Maxwell, who is also African-American. The Eagles signed two other cornerbacks and drafted three more. All five of those players are African-American.
The point is, Kelly can have differences of opinion with players. He could even clash with players at times. But his handling of the situation with Williams seems about as even-handed as possible. Ultimately, like McCoy, Williams had a contract that made it very difficult to keep him on the team.
If any color is a factor in these things, it appears to be green.