On Monday’s First Take Stephen A. Smith started a firestorm when he insinuated that Chip Kelly might be racially motivated in his personnel moves with the Philadelphia Eagles. Smith pointed to the evidence of the Eagles re-signing Riley Cooper fresh off his racist episode while not re-signing or trading away prominent African-American players. Here was Smith’s quote from Monday:
“Chip Kelly makes decisions over the last couple of years that dare I say make a few brothers uncomfortable. I think that’s fair to say. We’re sitting here looking at some of the decisions that Chip Kelly makes and I’m like what’s up with that? It looks like you’ve got to be his kind of guy. And I’m like, well Riley Cooper is your kind of guy? Let’s get beyond the system. The operative word is culture. The culture is what resonates with me profoundly because I’m looking at Chip Kelly and I’m like, really?… You’ve got brothers walking the street going like this, ‘what’s up with Chip, I don’t understand this.’ I’m not saying I know, but I’m just going to say 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?”
Since First Take revels in any controversy the program can create, the topic was brought up again on Tuesday. Smith further occupied a gray area on when he followed up on his original comments. He held firm that he did not call Chip Kelly a racist… but that he was only asking the question. The comments via Pro Football Talk:
“And I pointed out how DeSean Jackson is gone, LeSean McCoy is gone, Jeremy Maclin is gone, but Riley Cooper is still here. I wonder why that is? That has obviously provoked some people to sit there and say I went on the air and called Chip Kelly racist. That is a lie, that is false, that is inaccurate. But it’s not surprising, because that’s what people want to do sometimes, just because they have a problem with you because I do have the ability to make some people uncomfortable, sometimes. I must acknowledge it actually makes me smile, it doesn’t bother me one bit. I know I’m going to make people uncomfortable sometimes, sitting in this chair. Such is life.”
“I have a right to sit back and legitimately ask the question. What is your agenda? Culturally, personality-wise. You’ve got nine players from Oregon. Is it gonna be the Oregon Ducks . . . or is there something else going on? I have a right to ask that question, and I don’t care what anybody says.”
The story isn’t going away anytime soon. Former Eagles player and coach Tra Thomas went on the record to say that some players feel there is a “hint of racism” within the franchise and also cited a lack of minority assistant coaches in charge of position groups.