What started as a run-of-the-mill controversial offseason NFL trade that backed up lines for sports talk shows has made its way, with a host of other minor incidents, alongside Ferguson and Baltimore in the modern discussion of race relations in the United States.
On March 4, 2015, Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly made a splash mere days after being tabbed with total control of football operations. He traded the all-time leading rusher in team history, LeSean McCoy, to the Buffalo Bills for unheralded Kiko Alonso, who missed the entire 2014 season with a torn ACL.
Last month, McCoy sent shockwaves through the sports world when he implied to ESPN The Magazine’s Mike Rodak he believed the reason he and many other players are not on the Eagles anymore is because Chip Kelly is a racist:
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 playersthe good oneslike that.
The evidence supports McCoy’s claim.
First, over the past six years, LeSean McCoy has arguably been the most valuable employee of the Philadelphia Eagles. In that time he has gained 1,512 total yards per year, with an impressive 54 TDs. However, unlike most industries, the NFL puts a cap on how much a team can spend on its players. By trading McCoy, the Eagles freed up almost $11 million, giving them the potential to fill multiple holes in their roster.
Now let’s take a look at Chip Kelly’s brief but expansive hiring history.
Since adding GM to his title, which is the decision maker for all player personnel decisions, Kelly has sent four non-white players away while adding 16 non-white players. Kelly has subtracted three white players and added four to his roster. In addition, he’s also hired or promoted four white coaches and four non-white coaches.
All of this seems contradictory to McCoy’s statement, but renowned sportswriter and ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith understands McCoy.
“Now, I’m not saying I know, I’m just gonna say that it does strike me as a tad bit odd,” Smith said on ESPN’s First Take. “I’m gonna repeat this. Gone: LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Macline, DeSean Jackson. Staying: Riley Cooper. Really”
In 2013, Cooper dropped a racial slur at a Kenny Chesney concert, and still plays for the Philadelphia Eagles.