Out of nowhere, out of an incident that could have torn the Eagles apart before Chip Kelly had coached his first game, WR Riley Cooper has emerged as perhaps the most pleasant surprise of their season: 28 receptions; seven touchdowns; a gaudy 19.8 yards per catch; and, most important, a group of teammates who were willing to accept him again.
"I'm so proud of him," wide receiver Jason Avant said. "Only he and I know some of the conversations we've had or some of the things that transpired that could have had him down. But he's definitely overcome a lot of things."
No one but Cooper knows whether he has truly changed in the wake of his telling a black security guard at Lincoln Financial Field that he would "fight every n- here," and in a way, we don't have to know.
Everyone carries some amount of prejudice, however small, within his or her heart. No one is immune. No adult is an innocent. As offensive as Cooper's language was, what matters now is that he understood he was wrong, that he has not repeated the behavior, and that his teammates were forthright both in condemning what he said and allowing him the opportunity to repair his relationships with them.
Cooper has exploded this season since QB Nick Foles has taken over. Cooper's numbers with Foles are impressive: 15 receptions, 393 yards, 6 TDs in about a game-and-a-quarter of work this season. The two have played a lot together on the second team while Foles was behind Michael Vick and Cooper behind Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson.