Kenny Chesney has spoken out after Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper was recorded using a racial slur at a concert headlined by the country star. Amid the media firestorm, Chesney told ESPN: “I’m as shocked as anyone to see the video of Riley Cooper that’s started circulating on the Internet. I don’t believe in discrimination in any form, and I think using language like that is not only unacceptable, it is hateful beyond words.”
Chesney added: “I don’t know everything about every player who comes to our shows. We invite the teams in the places where we play, and I’ve found the guys from the NFL are some of the most inspiring people I meet all year. They give back to their communities, work with children, hospitals and various charities, as well as raising awesome families.”
Chesney continued: “To judge an entire audience by one loud mouth isn’t fair ... not to the NFL, not to the city of Philadelphia and that awesome crowd, not to my band and crew and certainly not to me, who believes music is about bringing people together for friendship and forgetting about the things in life that bring you down. The music I make is about living life, loving life and loving everybody -- no matter who they are. That’s how I was raised, and what someone else does or says doesn’t reflect who I am or what my fans stand for.”
The video, going viral on Wednesday, shows the 25-year-old Eagles wide receiver saying “I will jump that fence and fight every n----- here bro!” at a Chesney concert in June. Speaking to reporters the same day, Cooper said the slur was directed at an African-American security guard working the concert, according to E Online.
“I am so ashamed and disgusted with myself,” Cooper said in a statement. “I want to apologize. I have been offensive. I have apologized to my coach [Chip Kelly], to [Eagles owner] Jeffrey Lurie, to [Eagles general manager] Howie Roseman and to my teammates. I owe an apology to the fans and to this community. I am so ashamed, but there are no excuses. What I did was wrong, and I will accept the consequences.”
Meanwhile, the Eagles fined Cooper for an undisclosed amount as a result of the slur. The team also announced that Cooper is stepping away from training camp to receive counseling.
“Riley Cooper will be seeking counseling, and we have excused him from all team activities,” the Eagles said. “This is all new territory, and we are going to evaluate this timetable every step of the way. He will meet with professionals provided by the Eagles during this period of time to better help him understand how his words have hurt so many, including his teammates.”