Riley Cooper downplayed a fight he had with Eagles teammate Cary Williams in practice, saying the incident was just the result of two competitors playing hard.
Cooper got into trouble this offseason when he was caught on video using a racial slur. The team decided to keep the wide receiver on the roster, but mandated that he go to sensitivity training. He was also fined, and apologized to teammates.
After Riley Cooper and Cary Williams fought, memories of the incident were revived.
“Any time there’s something extra on the field with Riley and another teammate or an opponent, that’s the first thing that’s going to come up — especially if the guy’s black,” said teammate LeSean McCoy.
Riley Cooper said the fight with Cary Williams had nothing to do with the racial slur incident, saying the scuffle was just the result of a wide receiver and cornerback both going for the ball during a heated play.
“We got tangled up going for the ball,” Cooper said. “We both ended up on the ground — which you don’t want to do in practice, especially in the season. No one wants to end up on the ground going for a ball because that’s when injuries happen.”
But sources on the team indicate there may be more to it. An unnamed player told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Williams shouted “I’m not a n—– you mess with” several times.
Williams was also one of several African-American players who said they were wary about sharing the field with a teammate who used the “N-word” in public.
“I think there’s no place for that word in anybody’s language,” Williams said after the initial incident. “It’s still the same meaning, it’s still a harsh word…. I think that’s one thing we have to work on as a community as far as black people and just taking it out of our vocabulary.”
Even before the right with Riley Cooper, Cary Williams has had discipline troubles. He was fined twice last season, and thrown out of a joint practice with the New England Patriots during the preseason for getting into a tussle with a Patriots receiver.