Riley Cooper said he met with all of his teammates individually before returning to the practice field on Tuesday, and will try to earn their trust and respect moving forward.
“I told them, ‘I don't want you to forgive me because that puts the burden on you,’” Cooper said. I want it all on me. I told them that and I told them I apologize. They could tell it's from the heart. They know I'm not that type of person. It feels good to have support from the guys."
Cooper returned to his family’s home in Florida during the absence. He spent time with his family and determined that he was ready to return. Upon talking to Chip Kelly on Monday night, the coach agreed.
"It took a few days, to be honest with you,” Kelly said. “It's been a tough, tough ride. I talked to Chip last night and this morning. He asked me. He said, 'How do you feel? Are you ready to come back?' And I said, absolutely. I love being out there on the field. I love being out there with my guys. I wanted to be out there today, the sooner the better."
Cooper said the counseling consisted of talking about the situation and the gravity of the words. He discussed how many people he hurt, including families and children. He said alcohol was not discussed in the meetings. Now, he needs to move on with his name blemished by this incident.
“No doubt, it's going to be tough,” Cooper said. “I'm going to live with this for the rest of my life. It's one of those things where you can't let it affect your play on the field and that's what I'm going to strive to do."
Cooper’s play appeared unaffected by Tuesday. It was his best practice of training camp. He hauled in two touchdown catches, and displayed when he’s in the Eagles’ plans.
"To be honest with you, it felt good,” Cooper said. “It felt great. I love being out there on the field playing football. That's what I do and that's what I love. It felt good to be out there with the guys, catching and running, making some plays and them coming up to you, supporting you, high-fiving you, chest-bumping you like Jason Avant did in the end zone when I had that TD. It just felt good to be back out here with all of the guys."
Cooper said his teammates have been supported, and those who were available to speak to reporters echoed that sentiment. Cooper said no player told him that they would not forgive him.
Cooper also said he hasn’t spoken to anyone about legal action against the person who shot the video.
Look for more in Wednesday’s Inquirer.