“Chip Kelly makes decisions over the last couple of years that, dare I say, leave a few brothers feeling uncomfortable”
“We’re sitting there looking at some of the decisions Chip Kelly makes and I’m like, what is up with that? You got to be his kind of guy, you know, and I’m like, Cooper is your kind of guy?”
“Let’s get beyond the system. The operative word is ‘culture.’ The culture is what resonates with me more profoundly because I’m looking at Chip Kelly and, I’m like, really?
“I’m going to repeat this. Gone: LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, you know, DeSean Jackson. Staying: Cooper. Really? Really?”
-Stephen A. Smith
The above comments, and others, were made by ESPN pundit Stephen A. Smith during an episode of “ESPN First Take”. These remarks were in response to a number of questionable transactions made by Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly.
In the past two off seasons Kelly has released or traded superstar running back LeSean McCoy and wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, who are all African American, but the team kept underperforming wide receiver Riley Cooper, who is white. Smith strongly inferred that Kelly’s roster moves were due to racial bias.
Not only were Smith’s comments off base they were also irresponsible. I specifically delayed commenting on this situation to see if any of Smith’s inferences held merit, but it is evident they do not. Kelly’s roster moves clearly were not due to racial bias, as he just acquired African American players Byron Maxwell, Demarco Murray, Walter Thurmond, and Ryan Mathews. But, he removed those who possessed strong outspoken personalities and players who took issue with the way Kelly ran the team.
When Kelly took over as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013, his predecessor, Andy Reid, built a distinct team and organizational identity. For a dozen years the Eagles earned a reputation as a team of talented and extremely outspoken players. This group was headlined by Terrell Owens, Jeremiah Trotter, Hugh Douglas, Brian Dawkins, Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick.
When Kelly inherited the team, a few of those outspoken players remained from the Andy Reid regime. Those players included DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy. The strong personalities desired by former coach Andy Reid, irked new coach Chip Kelly.
There were numerous reports of players complaining about the way Kelly managed the team. When Kelly was the head coach at the University of Oregon, he ruled the team with an iron fist, to put it lightly. Put simply, it was “his way or the highway.” Under the Andy Reid administration, the players freely voiced their opinions on issues concerning the team. Conversely, Kelly preferred players who did not question his authority. But when he took the reins as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, he repeatedly dealt with players voicing their displeasure with his lengthy, strenuous practices, among other issues. As expected, Kelly sought to remove any players who in his mind were attempting to undermine his authority. In addition, this is believed to be the reason why Kelly brought in numerous former players he coached at the University of Oregon because they were familiar with his expectations and the way he ran his team.
In the end and contrary to Stephen A. Smith’s assertions, Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly’s roster moves were not motivated by racial animus, but were driven instead by Kelly ridding the Eagles of those who questioned his authority as the leader and sole decision maker on his team.
© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2015.