Stephen A. Smith didn’t flat-out call Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly a racist, but he did question whether some of the Eagles recent high-profile roster moves were made with race in mind.
Smith’s evidence for Kelly’s “culture” change mostly center around the fact that Riley Cooper is still an Eagle while Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson are no longer in Philly.
“Let’s get beyond the system, the operative word is ‘culture,’” Smith said. “The culture is what resonates with me more profoundly because I’m looking at a Chip Kelly and I’m like, really? Now, you’ve got to remember, where did I work for 16 years? I mean, this is Philadelphia. You understand what I’m saying? I’m always in Philly, and I’m telling you right now you’ve got people walking the streets and, hell with it, you’ve got brothers walking the streets going like ‘What’s up with Chip? I don’t understand this. I really don’t understand what you’re doing.’ Now I’m not saying I know, I’m just saying that it does strike me as a tad bit odd. I’m going to repeat this. Gone: LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, you know, DeSean Jackson. Staying: Riley Cooper. Really? Really? OK.”
Like nearly every assertion on First Take, this argument conveniently ignores plenty of contextual factors. LeSean McCoy was traded for Kiko Alonso, who is of Latino heritage. The Eagles will reportedly sign Frank Gore, who is black, when free agency begins tomorrow. Jeremy Maclin is leaving in free agency to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs.
The closest thing resembling a “culture” disagreement between Kelly and a player is DeSean Jackson and even that appeared to be an issue brewing between Jackson and the Eagles, not just Kelly.
Lastly, it must be said that Kelly did punish Riley Cooper for his racist remarks back in 2013 by fining him and keeping him away from training camp. Indeed, a huge reason why Riley Cooper is most likely going to stay an Eagle this season has nothing to do with “culture” and everything to do with money. If the Eagles were to cut Cooper before June 1st, the team would actually incur an extra $1.4 million salary cap hit. Even if the Eagles cut him after June 1st, they’d only save $1 million against the cap.
Still, one has to hand it to Stephen A. Smtih. The man apparently knows how to generate a headline without lending much, if any, credence to his claims.