By Ben Sullivan
Former Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper was cut in February 2016, and this weekend’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie minicamp is his first football action since.
“I was in Philly for six years. I got cut,” Cooper told ESPN. “I was expecting to get picked up somewhere and I didn’t. It was hard to keep training and stay ready without seeing that light at the end of the tunnel. I just kept grinding and grinding. The opportunity is finally here, and you’ve gotta make the best of it.”
Has this been a humbling experience for him?
“I don’t think it’s humbling,” said Cooper, 29. “It’s an honor. An NFL team is giving you a chance to make their roster. I don’t think it’s humbling at all.”
As Eagles fans know too well, Cooper was caught on tape at a 2013 Kenny Chesney concert uttering a racial slur at a black security guard. The video went viral.
“I’m extremely apologetic about that,” Cooper said. “I told everybody it was completely my fault. I’m so sorry about it. That’s not the type of person I am. People that know me know that. Some of the guys here know that.”
He added, “I don’t know if that’s the reason or not, but I’m going to make the best of this opportunity, keep moving forward and become a better human, a better person and a better football player.
“It was tough to keep training and staying ready,” Cooper said. “I thought the phone call would have came, but it didn’t. I’m cool with it. It worked out, and I have an opportunity.”
The Bucs like his size, his experience and the depth he brings at wide receiver. He played for Koetter’s close friend Andy Reid in Philly, and he also played with DeSean Jackson, with whom he maintains a relationship. And he’s a big fan of Jameis Winston, whom he played against when he was in Philly and watched when Winston was at Florida State.
“He’s a heck of a player,” Cooper said. “He’s super-talented and smart. He makes good reads, and it would be fun — it would be an honor to play with Jameis. He’s a heck of a quarterback, and I think he’ll be in Tampa a long time.”