In an interview with ESPN the Magazine, former Philadelphia Eagles and current Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy accused Eagles head coach Chip Kelly of getting rid of his team’s good players this offseason, “especially all the good black players.”
After getting traded to the Bills, McCoy said Kelly does not “like or respect” star players.
ESPN’s Mike Rodak asked McCoy about those comments in his interview, and here was McCoy’s response:
“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 players — the good ones — like that.”
McCoy would not elaborate on the “reason,” but when asked if other players have shared the same opinion, McCoy would only say that “other players have talked about it,” and referenced recent comments from ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.
McCoy is referring to comments Smith made in March that many felt implied that racism was behind some of the moves Kelly was making. Smith noted that the Eagles had traded McCoy, released DeSean Jackson, and not re-signed Jeremy Maclin, yet they kept wide receiver Riley Cooper after he was videotaped using the N-word at a concert.
A few weeks later, former Eagles players Tra Thomas said there was a “hint of racism” in the Eagles locker room, noting that the six of the seven black assistant coaches at the time served under other assistant coaches.
In March, Kelly responded to Thomas’ comments by saying he was “disappointed” (via NJ.com):
“I was disappointed. We gave Tra a great opportunity. He came in on a Bill Walsh minority internship program. [Eagles owner Jeffrey] Lurie was nice enough to keep him on for two years — one on offence, one on defence, seeing if he could find a job in the NFL. I hope Tra does find job in the NFL. We don’t have a job open … I don’t look at the colour of any player. I just look at how they fit in our team. In 2015, I don’t think that’s something that’s ever come into my mindset.”
Jimmy Kempski of the Philly Voice notes that the overall racial profile of the team hasn’t significantly changed this offseason. The Eagles lost 11 players, seven of whom are black and four of whom are white. Of the 11 players they added, eight are black and three are white.
Kelly has baffled the NFL world with his moves this offseason, leading to a number of theories about what he’s really doing. The comments from McCoy, Smith, and Thomas are a radical offshoot of the more popular theory that Kelly thinks his “system” is more important than star players.
After the McCoy trade, NFL Insider Jason Cole of BleacherReport.com said he had spoken with players in the league who have grown “leery” of Kelly and the Eagles.
“All of a sudden players are going, ‘Does Chip Kelly value players in this league or does he value his own system?'” Cole said. “It’s basically, ‘Is he full of himself or does he understand it is about talent?'”
It is true that Kelly’s style of coaching and team-building are unorthodox in the NFL and only time will tell if they work. In the meantime, because of his unusual style, every move is scrutinised and over-scrutinised as others try to figure out the formula.
When some can’t find a traditional answer, they look past the simple and find the sinister.
The Eagles chose not to comment for ESPN the Magazine and have not responded to a request for comment.
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