Riley Cooper is a wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles. In July, Cooper attended a concert where he was denied access backstage. Angered by this, and also a bit drunk, the football star spouted off with a very offensive racial slur at the black guards. What Cooper didn’t know at the time was that someone captured his words on a smart phone and soon the video was posted all over the Internet. Like a wild fire, the wide receivers words spread to his teammates, the NFL, fans, and to millions of others through the media. Cooper has received harsh criticism from people all over the United States, as well as a fine from the Eagles.
Ever since this became public, Cooper has profusely apologized to his teammates and fans, and is even seeking counseling. He went on to say, “The last few days have been incredibly difficult for me. My actions were inexcusable. The more I think about what I did, the more disgusted I get. I keep trying to figure out how I could have said something so repulsive, and what I can do to make things better” (BleacherReport.com).
Obviously Riley Cooper messed up, but thankfully he stepped up and is accepting responsibility for his actions. Whether these were the words of an extreme racist, a one time slip of the tongue, or the “alcohol speaking” (which is a topic for another day), Cooper is going to have to deal with the consequences of his words.
This situation is a cold slap of reality about the danger of our words. Our words can do terrible damage to others and ourselves. Certainly this is why Scripture places so much emphasis on our words. We are warned about the general dangers of the tongue (James 3:2-10; Colossians 3:8-10), gossip (Proverbs 26:22-25), words of anger (Matthew 5:22), lies (Colossians 3:9), etc.
As Riley Cooper can attest to, just a few poorly chosen words can quickly spread and damage our reputations. People are watching, listening, and sometimes even imitating our words. Let’s be all the more careful in what we say and all the more diligent to use our words for good.