Paul Domowitch, hardened NFL columnist for the Daily News, has crossed over to the
dark green side today. He cited two unnamed sources who saw Riley Cooper acting like an asshole in Wildwood last spring:
Last spring, according to two witnesses, Cooper was involved in an altercation in a bar in Wildwood, N.J. According to the witnesses, Cooper was heavily intoxicated. Every time a woman would go by, he would claim that she had tried to “grab my ass.” When a boyfriend of one of the women finally demanded an apology from him, he refused, telling him he was “Riley Cooper of the Philadelphia Eagles.”
An Eagles teammate of Cooper who was with him that day had to escort him out of the bar just as the guy and his friends were about to go after the wide receiver, according to the witnesses.
There’s nothing not believable about that tale, but the story in which it resides basically calls Cooper an alcoholic. It has a distinct get off my lawn feel to it:
There are good drunks and there are bad drunks.
There are people who drink and their personality doesn’t change. Or they become quiet and withdrawn.
And then there are people who drink and become loud and aggressive and belligerent. They develop beer muscles and say and do stupid things and want to fight anybody who looks at them the wrong way.
Which brings us to Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper.
Cooper is a bad drunk. If we didn’t know it before, we know it now, after his disgraceful behavior at that Kenny Chesney concert in June.
Many will, others won’t. When he’s not drinking, Cooper is a pretty likable guy. He refers to himself in the third person a little bit too much, but aside from that, he’s always struck me as a good kid.
But alcohol clearly brings out the worst in him. And if he was being truthful when he said the subject of his drinking hasn’t been discussed in his counseling session(s), then he or his parents or the Eagles need to find him a smarter counselor(s).
Maybe he has a drinking problem. Maybe he doesn’t. But someone might want to tell Domowitch that, yes, sometimes athletes do get drunk and act like assholes. It doesn’t mean they’re alcoholics… it means they’re assholes. There’s a difference. Now, not everyone gets drunk and starts spouting off racial epithets, but if you’re going to broach the subject of someone being alcoholic based on two incidents – a Kenny Chesney concert and a bar in Wildwood* – you better have more evidence to back it up. Athletes get smashed, people take pictures, we post ’em. Even Cliff Lee and Ryan Howard get banged up from time to time (and two days before the start of the 2013 season). Par for the course. Just another day at the office. Often it’s a Wednesday. Huuuump day. WHAT, WHAT?! Nothing unusual. Athlete drinks, does dumb thing. Doesn’t mean he’s an alcoholic.
*Honestly, I’d be more concerned about someone who wasn’t drunk at a Chesney concert and a bar in Wildwood.
Meanwhile, Domowitch’s Philly newspaper colleague, Phil Sheridan, has, of course, questioned the Eagles’ handing of the situation:
If they’d released Cooper immediately, the Eagles could have minimized the chances for that. If they’d suspended him for a game or two, they would at least have shown they weren’t putting football first here.
That moment has passed. All the Eagles can do now is hope nothing happens to widen those cracks: some new revelation about Cooper, or Kelly needing to discipline another player, or the ordinary tensions that come with losing a game or two.
It might all blow over. It might all blow up. Cross your fingers and hope, because that’s what the Eagles are doing here.
We’ve reached the point here where the coin purse has dried up and it’s starting to hurt. I keep posting about it because shit keeps happening. But at this point most people are willing to let it go and want to move on. The Eagles need to stop issuing statements. Cooper needs to stop being on the verge of tears. Scriptuals need to stop talking about race and alcoholism. It’s over. Drunk asshole says drunk asshole thing at a concert. You’re all welcome for the material. But the last thing any of us need is long-winded columnists talking about racism, camaraderie, alcoholism and society. Stick to sports. Leave the filth for us to wade through.
Whether or not Cooper got professional counseling, it probably doesn’t matter except from a PR standpoint (the long weekend off was the Eagles’ opportunity to see if this would blow over, and it appears to have). A man who goes to a concert and drinks doesn’t automatically have an alcohol problem. And sensitivity training, which is the conclusion that everyone jumped to, could only serve to teach Cooper that people get upset when you call a black person a “nigger.” If the reaction to his comments didn’t prove that to him, no amount of counseling would.