The other day I was walking around at Dick’s (laugh, because you’re ten) with a $50 gift-card that I received as a present for graduating high-school. While a majority of my gifts were gift cards for sites to buy school supplies for and college money, which I will certainly use, it was kind of nice to be able to get a graduation gift that I could blow in the present, on something that I probably don’t need, but would enjoy getting.
So I searched around Dick’s figuring that I would end up getting two or three Nike shirts, but went over to the Philly sports clearance rack, and started sifting through the jerseys. As expected, the rack was filled with those Phillies’ “All we do is win” shirts and a whole host of DeSean Jackson jerseys. I kept digging, and I found a Riley Cooper jersey, in my size. To make things better, it was the Eagles’ black alternate jersey, it was Nike, and it was stitched. And it was only $40.
I picked the jersey up and was ready to buy it. Realistically, unless I go through someone sketchy on eBay, I’d be looking at at least a $100 price for that. I wouldn’t spend $100 on it, but for $40, I certainly gave it serious consideration. And if it had been any other half-decent starter on the Eagles, certainly one that produced the way that Cooper did a season ago, I would have bought it without second though. But, I didn’t.
As much as it maybe should have, the idea that Cooper’s breakout season could have been somewhat of a fluke, didn’t scare me off. I trust the in Chip Kelly‘s offense, he is going to get his. What I couldn’t get over, at least enough to buy a jersey and wear it in public, was what happened last summer.
I didn’t avoid buying the jersey because I thought that I was helping to pay a racist.
First off, if I buy Cooper’s jersey for an undervalued price, even if he collects a percentage of it, it isn’t making or breaking him. Just like me not buying the jersey, has literally zero effect on Cooper. I’m sure someone has long since bought the jersey, and it not, Cooper still does not care.
Secondly, I always operated under the belief that this was one act of blatant stupidity, rather than a coming out party for a life-long racist. I don’t know Cooper, but the way that a majority of his teammates backed him after the scenario, and embraced him when he had a breakout season, kind of made me think that he was a sheltered racist, that the public was just know finding out about.
The reason that I couldn’t buy the jersey was simple. I have plenty of black/African American friends, and how do I explain to them that I’m wearing the jersey? That’s what I could justify to myself. I can’t stand racism, homophobia, or any type of hate speech, and I have friends that were offended by Cooper’s mistake. I was offended by it. I re-embraced him shortly after his apology because he was wearing the midnight green, and because I don’t actually believe he was a racist, but that doesn’t mean I forgot about what happened or feel the need to rock his jersey.
I don’t know what the statute of limitations on Cooper’s action is, certainly Ray Lewis and Michael Vick got ones for far worse crimes, but in my mind, Cooper hasn’t reached that point just because he played well in 2013.