Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper has been excused from all team activities in the wake of the brewing controversy surrounding the racially insensitive comments he made in June.
Video surfaced Wednesday of Cooper uttering a racial slur while at a concert in Philadelphia two months ago. He made a public apology on Wednesday, when the Eagles also levied him a heavy fine, and on Thursday the team said the Florida product would undergo sensitivity training.
Cooper has been contrite since the video became public, but has also been troubled by his remarks and the continuing negative backlash.
"The last few days have been incredibly difficult for me," Cooper said in a statement released by the Eagles on Friday. "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.
"Right now, I think it's important for me to take some time to reflect on this situation. The organization and my teammates have been extremely supportive, but I also realize that there are people who will have a tough time forgiving me for what I've done. The best thing for me, and for the team, is to step away for a period of time.
"During this time I'm going to be speaking with a variety of professionals to help me better understand how I could have done something that was so offensive, and how I can start the healing process for everyone. As long as it takes, and whatever I have to do, I'm going to try to make this right."
Cooper took part in practice on Thursday, but had virtually no interaction with teammates during breaks in the session.
The Eagles said Friday they were unsure of how long Cooper would be away from the team.
"This is all new territory and we are going to evaluate this timetable every step of the way," the Eagles said in Friday's statement. "He will meet with professionals provided by the Eagles during this period of time to better help him understand how his words have hurt so many, including his teammates."
The Eagles have been criticized by some for not making Cooper's discipline more stringent.
Critics also believe Cooper's increased value to the team in the wake of Jeremy Maclin's recent season-ending injury may have played a part in the crafting of the initial penalty.
Cooper was a reserve receiver last season and was likely going to have a similar role this year until Maclin tore his ACL early in camp. Cooper caught 23 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns in 2012.