It wasn’t that he just used the racial slur, it was the way in which it was used. He used it with malicious intent. For that reason, it will follow him for the rest of his career.
Cooper will never be the same kind of player again.
Before the racial slur, Cooper was defined as a solid receiver with big play potential, a favorite target of Michael Vick and underrated. He had flown under the radar for most of his career.
What he had going for him most is that nobody expected much from him. Even though he always had the physical gifts, he was a fifth rounder and not perceived to be a big-time player. He was an underdog and fan favorite.
Not anymore. Now, his name carries a stigma. And, if he thought it was a battle to belong and make the team before, it is a completely different story now.
He had made the Philadelphia Eagles roster and made a name for himself in the League with a steady salary. Now, his performance will be judged and critiqued on a much higher plane. One mental mistake can impair a person’s professional sports career for many years to come.
Cooper will now see with more detail how much the mental aspects of being a world-class athlete are related to the physical aspects.
Expect Cooper to not be nearly as dependable of a player. This incident will probably make him more apt to get injured, too.
Entering his fourth season, Cooper was just starting to gain real traction at his position and he was earning a quality reputation for his efforts. It will be hard for him to redeem himself and maintain a trajectory upwards as he was doing prior to this inebriation of guile and racism.
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com