The Eagles quickly made a number of calls seeking advice. They contacted Seth Williams, Philadelphia’s district attorney, and mayor Michael Nutter. They asked the prominent African-Americans what Cooper could do to make things right in the community.
There was already some racial tension. Two weeks earlier in Florida, George Zimmerman was acquitted in his murder trial for the shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin. Four months before that, Philadelphia magazine ran a controversial essay called “Being White in Philly” that rankled Mayor Nutter so deeply that he called for the magazine to be punished over the story.
Sensing the magnitude of the situation, the Eagles also reached out to sports sociologist Harry Edwards.
Edwards, who works with the San Francisco 49ers, is a former Black Panther who helped inspire Tommie Smith and John Carlos to raise their fists during their medal ceremony at the 1968 Summer Olympics. He’d worked with Kelly’s staff before when Kelly was at Oregon and running back LeGarrette Blount punched a white Boise State player back in 2009. Edwards helped Kelly formulate a plan to get Blount, who was initially suspended for the entire season, back on the football field.
Cooper caught four passes for a career-high 120 yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 6. He had three touchdowns and another career high with 139 yards three weeks later against the Oakland Raiders.
“Sometimes, you just click with guys, and, sometimes, it takes a lot of time to get comfortable with one another,” said former NFL quarterback Mark Brunell, an ESPN analyst. “It may take a year or two years to really get to the place where there’s a real connection there. Nick and Riley haven’t been together that long, yet they’re able to do some pretty special things. What’s happening in Philly is kind of fun to watch.”
Season status: not ruined.
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H/T to reader ET, who needs to go home