I'VE CHANGED my mind.
Chip Kelly should say something about what LeSean McCoy said.
He should say he is hurt that his former player implied he is a racist.He should say it is undeserved and unfair.
He shouldn't have to say this, of course, so he probably won't. But it will hang around here and around him if he doesn't, unjust that it is, festering like an untreated blister. Every move he makes, every breath he takes . . .
According to one count, the Eagles had the fewest number of black players (27) in the NFL in 2014. Not by much, and only four fewer than the Super Bowl champion Patriots, whose defeat of a team with the league's fourth-highest number of black players came via a smart, heady play by a black player. I know this only because I looked it all up, because commentators such as Stephen A. Smith have rolled the lower number of black players on the Eagles into their own thinly veiled racism narration, one McCoy referenced when he said that Kelly "got rid of all the good players . . . especially all the good black players," and that, "There's a reason he got rid of all the black players - the good ones - like that."
Here's the reason: money.
To claim otherwise ignores the existence of a salary cap, the existence of an upcoming pay bump for Shady, and the basic tenets of cost analysis.
To claim it's about racism ignores the basic tenets of decency.
The cap hit of McCoy for 2015 would have been just under $12 million, nearly a $4 million bump from the previous season, and more than twice as much as the $4.9 million hit his contract made during his record-setting season of 2013. As Kelly has pointed out, flipping McCoy to the Bills for Kiko Alonso freed up money to add several players, including DeMarco Murray. Alonso's a white guy, Murray a black guy.
Murray's salary-cap hit for next season is only $5 million. I was an economics major in college, so I can tell you with great certainty that is less than $12 million.
Summa cum laude, baby.
(Not really, but I always wanted to see that after my name.)
As for DeSean Jackson, he was either going to be cut by the Eagles last spring, receive the bump in pay he lobbied for, or play out the season feeling underpaid. Imagine another year of that.
Had Jackson not already begun lobbying for a bigger deal, I'm not sure he would have been jettisoned. I do know no team was willing to trade for that contract.
What a bunch of racists, right?
As it played out, Jackson was hobbled for much of this past season, and from mid-November on played well in only one game - against the Eagles and their beleaguered secondary.
Can anyone seriously argue the Eagles would be a better team now with those two than without? Again, this is about cost effectiveness. The money freed by their departures, and by the free-agency departure of Jeremy Maclin, has allowed him to add multiple good players, particularly on defense.
I hear several are black.
Maclin's case is different. He gambled high-risk on a one-year deal because of his 2013 knee injury, had himself a career year, and deserved to test free agency. Kelly said he wanted to keep Maclin, but the bidding - Kansas City ponied up a five-year, $55 million deal - was too rich for his blood. We'll see whether Chip knows when to hold 'em and knows when to fold 'em. But still . . . explain . . . How is this about race?
There's also this: Early into his first training camp as Eagles coach, Kelly announced that Michael Vick would be his starting quarterback going forward. Why? Because he thought Vick could operate his preferred offense better than Nick Foles could.
I'm still not sure it was the right pick. What I am sure of is that he made it based on how they looked with their helmets on. Oregon fans will also tell you about how Kelly once picked Darron Thomas over Nate Costa, or simply give you a list of similar choices he made there.
Which brings us to Riley Cooper. I don't know whether the Eagles coach has any better relationship with him than the strained one he had with McCoy, but Cooper counts $4.8 million against the cap this coming season, and I'm guessing Kelly believes the idea of cutting him loose from a team already thin at receiver doesn't make much sense. Especially if you believe in what you paid for, the Cooper of two seasons ago.
As for the premise he is loathed by many black players on the team and is a divisive element, that's not how it appears as the Eagles walk off the practice field on most days. That might be naïve, but it's all I have to go on.
That, and that narrative put forth by McCoy and Stephen A., that suggests Kelly is a racist. It carries a lot of weight, that word, a lot of hurt. He shouldn't have to, but if Kelly wants to keep it from hovering over him and his team, he should fight back.
On Twitter: @samdonnellon