Keeping the peace in an NFL locker room is hard enough in its own right without any outside influence.
After the publicity firestorm that fell on the Eagles on Wednesday afternoon, it's hard to imagine the locker room in Philadelphia being anything but a contentious environment for the next few months.
To recap, for those who missed it: Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper came under intense scrutiny Wednesday when a video surfaced online of Cooper dropping a big-time racial slur at a Kenny Chesney concert.
The slur, directed at African Americans, is something that Cooper is going to have to deal with in his own locker room and across the league. The repercussions are already being felt, as Eagles owner Jeff Lurie has announced Cooper will be fined, and some of Cooper's teammates, such as running back LeSean McCoy, have already spoken out against him.
It certainly seems like the type of situation that would be hard for a locker room to recover from. Having asked some veteran members of the Cowboys, that seems like an understatement.
"It'd be very difficult. I think whoever's the leader in that locker room should definitely sit down and talk to him, help him understand what he said, what he did, how he responded and how it affects a team, how it affects society, how it affects everybody around him, but then try to bring a positive out of it," said safety Will Allen. "I think whenever something negative like that happens, there needs to be somebody stepping up trying to bring some positivity to the situation."
Cornerback Brandon Carr wasn't familiar with the situation when asked about following Thursday morning's walkthrough. Having been briefed on the situation, he said it would be hard to digest that news coming from someone within his locker room.
[embedded_ad] "If it was a teammate, I guess you would be kind of shocked -- guy you play with would use a word like that, a racially charged word," Carr said.
Of course, earning forgiveness from your teammates might come, though it takes some time. Riley's going to have to worry about the guys in the other locker rooms every time the Eagles take the field this fall. Despite all the publicity given to bounties and score-settling in the NFL in recent years, Allen said he still won't be surprised if players target the Eagles' receiver.
"I'm just going to be honest. You won't want to see that, but somebody is. Somebody's going to be mad and perpetuate the negativity," Allen said. "I don't think that's something that we should do, but I'm sure it will happen."
Carr said he's much more concerned with what's going on with his team than the issues in Philadelphia. But it certainly raises an interesting point about the dynamic of race relations – especially in the unique environment of a professional team's locker room.
"I'm pretty sure it'll be a difficult task, especially with all the things we've got going on in this world, and just the divide we still have," Carr said. "But if we've all got the same goal and the same purpose, you've got to deal with the differences, move on, forgive and it's out of your control after that."