Nick Foles, a quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, gave an interesting quote to Peter King after a seven-touchdown performance today. One of the day's storylines was that Riley Cooper, one of Foles's receivers—you may recall that he made headlines over the summer for calling someone a "nigger"—finished the day with five catches for 139 yards and three touchdowns. Foles suggested that Cooper's excellent day helped him overcome the ugly episode.
Of course, people on Twitter—and, presumably, elsewhere—questioned that line of thinking. It wasn't like Cooper's parents died before the game, with his sorrow working as motivation to help his team win, after all. The dude said "nigger" on video. King, though, chose the bizarre route of defending Cooper from a non-existent group of people who want him dead, or at least exiled from professional football, for what he did.
Then King doubled down, veering even further from the point by retweeting people preaching about how everyone should get a chance and how if you think about it, Cooper is the real victim here.
Now we're in stupid territory. No one has said that Cooper should have rocks thrown at him, or even be thrown out of the NFL; the extent of his known persecution to date has involved people thinking, "Well, that guy sure seems like an asshole." His redeeming activities, meanwhile, have consisted of not calling anyone else a "nigger" on video.
Going back to the original quote from Foles, the point is that getting caught on video saying a vile word to someone isn't some kind of some kind of external calamity, the morally neat kind of adversity that's easily overcome with twinkling piano music and perhaps a #longread in a respectable publication. Cooper said an awful, racist thing, for which he apologized. He caught three touchdowns in one day. One has nothing to do with the other. Riley Cooper can be a person who had a superb game and said something abhorrent without anyone having to connect the two. This shit isn't two-dimensional.
Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images