Sometimes we make mistakes.
Not an uncommon statement that's generally accepted by most in today's world. However, sometimes mistakes get magnifed and cause more damage than intended, and that has been the case for Riley Cooper.
For those who may be foggy on the situation, let me fill you in:
Cooper is a former wide receiver at the University of Florida who now plays in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles. During a Kenny Chesney concert in June, Cooper was slightly intoxicated and drunkenly ripped off a racial slur where he threatened to "fight every n-word in here" after an altercation with an African-American security guard. Thanks to the magic of cell phone video technology, the entire moment was captured. Because the internet has the memory of an elephant and the prowess of a savvy investigative reporter, the clip went viral last week.
ESPN and every other major sporting news outlet clung to the Eagles' practice facility on July 30 for Cooper's apology after the video broke.
A visibly shaken Cooper could only muster a few words to sum up the disappointment, shame and embarrassment he felt.
And who could blame him?
However, instead of embracing Cooper, loving him despite his failures and helping him to move forward, something much worse took place.
We left him alone. Cooper returned to practice on Aug. 1 and multiple outlets reported the Eagle was isolated and abandoned in between drills. When talking to the media after practice, Cooper looked broken, as if the situation had physically cut him straight to the core.
News broke of multiple players, including QB Michael Vick and RB LeSean McCoy, who both were shocked, appalled and worried they couldn't trust Cooper as a man again.
His parents even were reported to be "disgusted" with their 25-year-old son.
Are we really that self-righteous that we must chastise a man who made a bad mistake on camera while we make the same, if not worse, blunders ourselves on a day-to-day basis?
Is every media member and naysayer the epitome of purity in regards to their language and behavior outside of the office?
I am not, and I'm positive if you were followed around with a camera for an extended period of time, your mistakes might look eerily similar to Mr. Cooper's when displayed for the world to see.
No one has taken the time to show love to a person who was desperately in need of help last week; he was thrown under the bus. Instead of reaching out and offering a hand, we kicked Cooper in the face.
In no way, shape, form or fashion do I condone Cooper's racial slur or anything of that nature; however, it's much easier to knee-jerk react to someone else's mistake than to invest, understand the context of the issue and defend those who need an advocate.
Cooper made a dumb mistake, but, it was just that. A mistake.
Not a trend, but an outlier. Consider the fact that he has played professional football in an era when most of his fellow wide receivers are African American, and yet this one incident marks the first time in his entire career that he has exhibited a shimmer of racism.
However, it's no secret that race issues sell and send TV ratings through the roof, but is it worth it at the expense of a player's career and well-being?
Multiple reports from outlets in the Philadelphia area reported over the weekend that Cooper isn't expected to remain with the Eagles organization after the team freed him of his training camp duties in order to seek counseling.
Racism has no place in sports, or in any part of society, but lending a blind eye to it, depending on the situation, a majority of the time while glorifying Cooper's blunder is ignorant.
It's a shame that Cooper's playing career has to be ruined over something that was simply blown out of proportion.
Gage Arnold is a rising senior in journalism and electronic media. He can be reached at email@example.com.