Mike Pouncey defends Riley Cooper, calls him 'good friend'
AUG 01, 2013 10:19p ET
DAVIE, Fla. — Mike Pouncey said Riley Cooper made a mistake, but he still considers him a "good friend."
Pouncey was Cooper's teammate at the University of Florida from 2007-09. The Miami Dolphins center said Thursday he plans to stand behind Cooper, who recently made racially insensitive remarks and has been fined by the Philadelphia Eagles.
"I think Riley is a great guy," Pouncey said in an interview with FOX Sports Florida at Dolphins training camp. "I think obviously he made a mistake. I just feel bad for him because he's a good friend."
Pouncey said he never saw any of that kind of behavior at Florida by Cooper, who was captured on a camera phone using the N-word at a Kenny Chesney concert. Pouncey plans to reach out at some point to the wide receiver to let him know he remains a friend.
"When the time's right, I will," Pouncey said. "But right now I know he's going through a tough time and I just hope for nothing but the best for him."
Pouncey wasn't the only former Florida teammate of Cooper's to offer support Thursday. So did running back Mike Gillislee, Cooper's teammate in 2009.
"I don't really think nothing of it," said Gillislee, who also said he never saw any evidence of such behavior before by Cooper. "I don't know if it was a joke or he said it. But I don't think it's a big deal. ... He's a great person. He doesn't have a bad character."
Gillislee said he wasn't offended by the remark. While he did agree with the fine Cooper incurred, he believes the incident has been overblown.
"It’s not really a big deal," Gillislee said. "I still don't think it should be blown up like that. If he said, he said it. … (The fine is all) he should get for it. I think they should just move on."
Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes, who was with the Atlanta Falcons when they played Philadelphia in each of the past three seasons, also offered forgiveness.
"It looked like he was kind of drunk or whatever," Grimes said. "So he made a mistake. He apologized for it. That's all you can really ask. It's up to whoever if they want to forgive him. Me, I would. But people make mistakes. ... As long as his teammates can accept his apology and be cool with him and he does what he has to to get back in their good graces, that's all he can do."
After the incident was publicized Wednesday, Cooper apologized both in a statement and to his teammates. He continued to express remorse in speaking Thursday to the media.