My lord, it’s getting to the point where we can’t get through an entire day without the Bills drawing negative attention to themselves in some fashion.
At last weekend’s NFL draft, they selected not one, but two, Florida State players who had been linked to domestic violence at FSU.
The draft was barely complete when Rex Ryan traveled to Baton Rouge to have dinner with LSU offensive tackle La’el Collins, who went undrafted last weekend because his pregnant former girlfriend was found murdered shortly before the draft.
Authorities have said they do not consider Collins a suspect in the murder. But Ryan’s visit – the first by any NFL team – raised questions about whether he had violated a rule against contacting undrafted free agents before their schools finish final exams.
On Wednesday came revelations that LeSean McCoy, their new prize running back, had intimated in an ESPN interview that Eagles head coach Chip Kelly was a racist. Kelly traded McCoy to the Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso on March 3.
McCoy has not concealed his lingering ill will towards Kelly since the trade. He took it to a staggering new low in his interview with Mike Rodak, which will appear in the May 25 issue of ESPN The Magazine.
“I feel like I always respected him as a coach,” McCoy said. “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,” McCoy added. “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.”
One has to tread carefully on the subject of race, which is a very serious and emotional issue in our culture. When black men are being killed by police and young men are rioting in inner cities, it’s clear the nation is due for an honest, open dialogue on race.
But it seems pointless and self-serving for McCoy to bring race into the discussion about Kelly and the Eagles. It cheapens the larger discussion and feeds into the tired bias of people who contend that blacks use the “race card” for their own convenience.
It makes McCoy seem petty and resentful, like he’s too proud to accept the fact that Kelly got rid of him because he didn’t feel he was worth top running back money. Maybe what Kelly didn’t like was backs who don’t always hit the hole and run sideways at times.
Yes, McCoy had the second-most yards of any running back in the NFL the last two seasons. He’s a major upgrade for the Bills. That doesn’t mean Kelly, who gained control of personnel in Philly after last season, was a racist for wanting to do better at the position.
Kelly is such a flaming racist that he signed DeMarco Murray for five years and $40 million. Murray, who led the NFL in rushing last season, got the same base deal as McCoy did with the Bills. He’s black, like every other relevant running back in the league.
In the draft, Kelly’s first five picks were black. Kelly has seven assistant coaches who are black. The league is almost 70 percent black nowadays. Black men are drafted, signed, released, fined and interviewed more than anyone else.
I used to worry when people would suggest I was a racist for criticizing black players, or when Bruce Smith would suggest the media was racist. But I looked around and noticed that 70 percent of the guys I was glorifying were black, too.
Obviously, there is racism in sports, and society in general. I’m sure there are coaches who are bigoted, and who use racial slurs in private moments. Kelly might donate to the Ku Klux Klan, for all I know. But it’s hard to take McCoy’s comments seriously.
Kelly released star receiver DeSean Jackson two years ago and let wideout Jeremy Maclin flee as a free agent. But teams often decide not to overpay for players. The Bills didn’t re-sign such black stars as Antoine Winfield, Nate Clements and London Fletcher. At times, it seemed they were more willing to overpay a white face like Chris Kelsay.
But ultimately, it was about finances. What NFL coaches and general managers don’t like is losing. And that often means parting with players who have priced themselves off the roster or outlived their usefulness. Bill Belichick is famous for it. He’s not always right, but he seems heartlessly color blind.
McCoy said there are players on the Eagles who agree with him. He tried to justify his comments by saying Stephen A. Smith, the chief ranter on ESPN, had talked about it.
Quoting Smith is no feather in the cap of credibility. This is the same cartoon character who defended Floyd Mayweather and insinuated that domestic violence was only a women’s issue.
Maybe “Shady” McCoy will eventually claim he was quoted out of context. He has said that he has “nothing negative to say” about Kelly – yeah, aside from suggesting that Kelly has a bias against black players.
Ryan, who spoke for 23 minutes with the media on Wednesday, was quite evasive on the Collins issue. But on the McCoy matter, the coach said he wasn’t going to “muzzle” his players.
Fine. That’s Ryan’s way. His Jets teams were famous for living on the edge and saying whatever was on their minds. They embraced their image as an outlaw outfit, one that made them the most hated team in the NFL when they were still winning.
Ryan said the Bills are going to be bullies, and he doesn’t care what people think. It’ll make life at One Bills Drive more interesting, not knowing what the players – or the head coach – will say next.
But McCoy should zip it. He should stop obsessing about Kelly and move on. He’s embarrassing the Bills, which is too much in fashion these days.