The Evster: So We’re Really Goin’ with Riley Cooper as our #2 WR, Huh?

The Evster: So We’re Really Goin’ with Riley Cooper as our #2 WR, Huh?

So what you’re telling me is that the Philadelphia Eagles – the organization who once employed Jerome Brown – is starting Riley Cooper at wide receiver. Riley Cooper. The 5th round draft pick and extremely mediocre wide receiver who also happens to have a really shafty haircut (and tends to be somewhat of a racist). That Riley Cooper. I just want us to all understand what’s going on here, because the season starts Monday. This Monday. And yet, as of now, Riley Cooper, yep, Riley Cooper, the same Riley Cooper I was just referring to -- a guy who has 46 catches in 3 NFL seasons and heckles concert security guards by calling them the N word -- is one of our starting wide receivers. Just so we’re all on the same page here. This is actually happening.

But for now, let’s forget about the fact that Riley Cooper used racial slurs at a Kenny Chesney concert and simply focus on the fact that he WENT to a Kenny Chesney concert. Because in order to do so, a few things must have taken place, it’s not like you’re just walking down the street one day and suddenly stumble into a Kenny Chesney concert. This was a premeditated event, something Riley actually wanted to do. Riley must’ve heard that Kenny Chesney was coming to town, taken interest in getting tickets to the show, found a way to get tickets (either through purchasing them himself or receiving freebies like athletes often do), then, on the night of the show, he still had to say to himself, “Yeah, this is a good idea. I’m gonna go check this Chesney guy out. I like Kenny Chesney,” then put on clothes for the concert, find a way to get himself to Lincoln Financial Field, enjoy the concert so much that he wanted to go BACKSTAGE to possibly meet Mr. Chesney and join in on the Chesney festivities, and then finally call that black dude the N word and end up as the Eagles most (publicly) racist wide receiver ever. I don’t know about you, but that’s not really the type of starting wide receiver I want on my football team. Granted, our other starting wideout (WHO I LOVE) is a bit of clown who made a rap video this offseason with Snoop Lion (WHICH IS AWESOME), but I’ll take that over a racist, country music fan with Goldilocks hair any day.

Then there’s the whole part about Riley Cooper sucking at football. In Riley’s 3-year NFL career, his most famous play has been when he LAID DOWN ON HIS BELLY on a kickoff return. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t really remember AJ Green or Roddy White ever practicing tummy time during any point of their NFL careers. Even if Riley showed great promise, was a late bloomer and had potential to break out like many unknown wide receivers tend to do, wouldn’t he have shown SOME of those signs throughout the last few years? Or preseason games? Or ever? And would an Eagles starting cornerback take a swing at a guy in practice just days before the season opener if he thought his teammate was worth anything to the squad? That might not be a good question, because Cary Williams seems like a total lunatic, but still, why would anyone want to go through life with such a stupid haircut?!?!

But he’s a starter! A starter for our favorite professional football team. So this year, the Eagles will have a dog-killing quarterback (WHO I ALSO LOVE) throwing touchdowns to a redneck idiot. Seems like a double standard, I know, that we can love Vick but still hate Riley, but Michael Vick is GOOD and Riley Cooper is BAD. (Err, I guess you could argue that Michael Vick sucks too, but at least he’s fun to watch, while Cooper is embarrassing to look at, especially when he takes off his helmet and shakes his long locks like my 13-year-old cousin, Leah.) Vick can throw a football through a linebacker’s face or leap over a whole guy at any moment, so we support him. And yes, that’s probably unfair to Riley, but this is THE GRIDIRON, and at every level from Pop Warner to high school to the THA ARENA BOWL, the best players have always received special treatment. This is nothing new. The bottom line is that Michael Vick has a rocket arm and jackrabbit legs and that Riley Cooper has a dumb name and a dumb face.

(Plus, for all intents and purposes, Vick has been a pretty good guy since he got to town. His teammates love him, he has done charity work in the community (The Vick Foundation recently donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a new football field in Fairmount Park) and as far as I know, he has not killed one single dog since he’s been here.)

All right, I could go on and on about Riley sucking and being a racist and doing commercials for Vidal Sassoon, but at some point you have to stop complaining and start asking, “What can the Eagles do about it?”

Well I feel like they could still do a few things:

1. They could cut Riley and start Jason Avant at WR2, Demaris Johnson at WR3, Vince Papale at WR4 and my Aunt Maxine at WR5. I guess that’s probably not the best plan, but with the number of tight ends on this roster, it just might work, and my Aunt Maxine is a WARRIOR who smokes A LOT of cigarettes.

2. Find someone else. I know, I know, I know, how could a new receiver possibly learn Chip Kelly’s before Monday Night? (And to make things even more difficult, the game has an early start time.) But after the latest round of NFL cuts, there are some decent dudes out there: Robert Meachem, Mohamed Massequoi, CHAD HALL, some dude I saw walking down the street the other day in a Michael Crabtree jersey … now, I understand that these guys got cut for a reason, they probably suck too, but I’d rather have them on the squad than a racist, no-talent butthead who wanted to go backstage to meet Kenny Chezzy Chezz.

3. They could just get rid of him and figure it out.

#SecretSnapper

But who cares what I think? I’m just a fan, just like you, and we have no say regarding what the Eagles do with their roster. So what can we really do? I guess we could boo Riley every time he runs out on the field, gets targeted, drops a pass, scores a touchdown, takes off his helmet and whips his hair in the breeze, anything to tell the organization that we don’t approve of their personnel decisions or Riley’s lousy play. Unfortunately, many Eagles fans tend to be degenerate racists, so I can’t imagine anyone actually going for that.

Personally, I hope the guy breaks his leg week 1. That’s not true, I don’t really wish that, but I hope something happens to prevent him from playing for our team. But I doubt anything will. Riley’s here, he’s in the starting lineup and we’re just gonna have to suck it up.

So when Vick (or Foles or Barkley or David Duke) throws up a fade to Riley in the end zone and he comes down with it and that stupid fight song starts playing and the guy next to you holds up both palms for a double high five, I guess we’ll just have to take a deep breath and go along with it. Maybe deep down we can celebrate Vick and the state of Virginia’s rehabilitation program. Or maybe we'll be reminded that football is the ultimate team game and it’s not necessarily Riley’s touchdown, but one shared by everyone on the roster. Or maybe we can just log onto Twitter to see that stripper who takes off her clothes every time the Eagles score.

Seriously, @AnnaPHCPhilly. Check her out. She’s a dancer at Cheerleaders and takes an article of clothing off every time the Birds score. It’s called “Pics for Points” and it’s honestly amazing / really, really, really weird and I CANNOT WAIT for our first score.

Seriously, I will compromise everything I’m about for one picture of a woman’s bare butt.

Follow the Evster @TVMWW.

Best of NHL: Matt Murray, Penguins cruise past Habs

Best of NHL: Matt Murray, Penguins cruise past Habs

MONTREAL -- Eric Fehr and Jake Guentzel scored in the second period to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins past the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 on Wednesday night.

Defensemen Ian Cole and Olli Maatta also scored for Pittsburgh, which won its second game in a row after a three-game skid.

Sven Andrighetto scored for Montreal, which lost its second straight and has only two wins in its last six games. The Canadiens' offense remained in a rut coming off a 1-0 loss Monday in Detroit.

Penguins goalie Matt Murray was back in form after Monday's wild 8-7 win over Washington, making 19 saves. But Carey Price's woes continued as Pittsburgh outshot Montreal 26-20. Price allowed three or more goals for the eighth time in 10 games (see full recap).

Red Wings' Vanek, Nielsen score in 6-5 SO win over Bruins
DETROIT -- Thomas Vanek and Frans Nielsen scored in a shootout, lifting the Detroit Red Wings to a comeback 6-5 win over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.

The Red Wings rallied from 3-0 and 4-1 deficits in the first period, and with 3:04 remaining in regulation, Gustav Nyquist scored to pull them into a tie.

In the shootout, Tuukka Rask and Petr Mrazek stopped the first shots they faced before Vanek scored for the Red Wings and Brad Marchand countered with a goal for the Bruins. Nielsen, who like Vanek joined the team last summer as a free agent, scored on the team's third attempt and Vatrano missed the net with a chance to extend the 1-on-1 duels.

The Bruins were dominant early before blowing a chance to keep Detroit at a distance in the Atlantic Division standings (see full recap).

Burns, Pavelski lead Sharks past rival LA Kings, 3-2
LOS ANGELES -- Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels scored in the San Jose Sharks' seventh win at Staples Center in their last eight trips, 3-2 over the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday night.

Joe Thornton had two assists and Martin Jones made 22 saves for the defending Western Conference champion Sharks, who wrapped up their regular-season series against their biggest rivals with three victories in five games.

After Burns scored his 19th goal in the opening minutes, San Jose hung on through a scoreless third period to continue its recent domination in downtown Los Angeles, including three victories in last season's first-round playoff series.

Tanner Pearson and Marian Gaborik scored for the Kings, who ended a seven-game homestand with four defeats (see full recap).

McDavid scores in overtime to lead Oilers past Panthers 4-3
EDMONTON, Alberta -- Connor McDavid scored the winning goal in overtime as the Edmonton Oilers won their fourth game in a row, 4-3 over the Florida Panthers on Wednesday night.

McDavid, who also had two assists in the game, got a breakaway late in overtime and got the puck away with 2.6 seconds left. Florida's James Reimer made the glove save, but the puck was ruled to be across the line via video review.

Zack Kassian, Mark Letestu and Jordan Eberle also scored for the Oilers, who have their longest winning streak since December 2015.

Vincent Trocheck, Michael Sgarbossa and Greg McKegg had goals for the Panthers, who have lost two straight (see full recap).

Joel Embiid, Sixers prove plenty with benchmark win over Raptors

Joel Embiid, Sixers prove plenty with benchmark win over Raptors

BOX SCORE

The Sixers weren’t supposed to beat the Raptors, were they? This was going to be an “easy” game for the visiting team, which was coming to Philadelphia on a back-to-back that started in Brooklyn. The Raptors are a playoff team, and second in the Eastern Conference at that. Not to mention, they had defeated the Sixers in their last 14 meetings.

Maybe easy would have been the case the last time the two teams played back in mid-December. For the Sixers, though, things have changed since then and a 94-89 win over the Raptors on Wednesday proved this recent success is not fleeting (see Instant Replay).

“I don’t think it’s a fluke,” Joel Embiid said. “We’re competing. We’re winning games. We’re playing great defense. We finally found what we’ve been looking for.”

The Sixers had been missing clearly-defined roles and a defensive identity (see story). Now that Brett Brown has whittled down his roster to 10 players and laid out a starting five and second unit, the team has been gelling in those two aspects. The Sixers have won seven out of their last nine games, with the Raptors being the highest caliber of competition.

The Raptors entered the game averaging 111.5 points per game, first in the East and third in the NBA behind only the Warriors and Rockets. They had scored less than 100 points in just seven games this season. Additionally, the Raptors had been held to under 90 points by a single opponent: the Spurs. Not bad company to be in. 

Embiid led all players with 26 points (including 12 for 14 from the free throw line) to go with nine rebounds (see highlights). The Sixers staved off 25 points (11 for 21 from the field), six assists and three rebounds from DeMar DeRozan and 24 points (11 for 16 from the line), four rebounds, four assists and five steals from Kyle Lowry, who fouled out. The Raptors shot 25 percent from three and 65.2 percent at the free throw line.  

“We’re playing with a spirit, we’re playing with a defensive mindset,” Brown said. “There is a belief within each other amongst the team that is the best that it’s been since I’ve been here.”

The Sixers' winning stretch began against subpar teams, opponents who earlier in the season some would look at the schedule and say, the Sixers could probably take that one, as they tried to project a batch of victories. The Sixers turned those wins over the Nuggets, Timberwolves and Nets into momentum and carried it into a matchup against the Knicks.

Even though the Knicks are looking lost this season, they still have veteran offensive firepower that can take over a game against a struggling opponent. The Sixers made noise by beating them at the buzzer, then escalated their performance against the postseason-hungry Hornets and Bucks. 

The Raptors are different, though. There is no questioning their success and potential to make a deep playoff run … again. Nonetheless, the Sixers handled this well-seasoned opponent with composure and confidence down the stretch. 

They stayed together when DeRozan hit a jumper with 1:53 to play to give the Raptors their first lead since the second quarter. The Sixers responded to the one-point deficit with a 7-0 run to push the edge up to six points with 20.7 seconds to go.

“I think it says we’re for real. It shows our consistency that we’ve built throughout the year,” Nerlens Noel said. “We’re relentless. We have a young group of guys that know how to play the game and play it the right way and will come out there and compete against anybody in this league. I think the perception should be a whole different one now.”

The Sixers showed they can compete with top talent. Their wins aren't just coming from teams at the bottom of the standings. 

"That gives us a lot of confidence," Embiid said. "Coming into the game, we had a lot of confidence. Winning against the second-best team in the East is just amazing. We’re going to keep on working."