So, a little over a week ago, this happened. From former Pitt/current Buffalo Bills running back Lesean McCoy talking about his former coach with the Eagles, Chip Kelly:
The relationship was never really great. I feel like I always respected him as a coach. I think that's the way he runs his team. He wants the full control. You see how fast he got rid of all the good players. Especially all the good black players. He got rid of them the fastest. That's the truth. There's a reason. ... It's hard to explain with him. But there's a reason he got rid of all the black players -- the good ones -- like that. [The Eagles declined to comment on McCoy's statements.]
I really wanted to touch on this for a couple of reasons. For this site, it's primarily about Shady being a former Pitt player, obviously. But for another, it's just an interesting topic.
McCoy's accusations are pretty blunt. The Eagles, in his words, got rid of all the good black players and he says 'there's a reason' they did so. In not so many words, McCoy is essentially using the racism card without mentioning that specific term.
I really come down to two conclusions here:
First, McCoy may have a bigger gripe when it comes to Kelly's feelings towards star players. Maybe Kelly has beef with star players and the attitudes that often accompany them in general, but I'm not sure color has anything to do with it. The Eagles, of course, have shed several black stars including McCoy, Desean Jackson, and Jeremy Maclin. But ESPN's Phil Sheridan gives some excellent context in that anytime a team gets rid of a star player, there's a good chance that he's going to be black since, you know, about 70% of the league is comprised of such players. I also won't rehash all of that article, but he cites plenty of examples to would suggest a bias against blacks by Kelly is unfounded.
When you look at his individual situation, Philly traded McCoy for a return centered around Kiko Alonso. But they also replaced him with a star black running back in DeMarco Murray. It's pretty clear that McCoy and Kelly didn't have a great relationship and that, to me, is much more of a reason he was dealt.
My second conclusion, as cited in the Sheridan article, stems from several years ago. The bigger problem for Kelly has always been that the Eagles retained Riley Cooper, who was caught on video making racist comments at a concert a few years ago. You might remember that I wrote at the time that I didn't see how the Eagles could keep him after that. McCoy said back then that while he and Cooper had been friends, he didn't see the relationship being able to ever be the same again. Years later, Cooper remains on the team and I have a hard time believing that most of the black players on the team (especially the ones that were there at the time) don't have similar feelings as Shady did.
I share the same sentiment that Sheridan does - by keeping Cooper on the team, Kelly opened himself up to all sorts of issues. And with the Eagles' exodus of black stars as described by McCoy, it just adds more fuel to any questions about Kelly - fair or not.
In the end, some of what the Eagles have done may look curious, but a lot of football transactions involving stars have that look as well. McCoy's comments just don't hold up for me but there's no doubt that by allowing Cooper to remain with the team, all eyes have been on Kelly in terms of race relations.