PHILADELPHIA - Eagles safety Walter Thurmond offered an impassioned defense of coach Chip Kelly, who has been criticized by a handful of former players for being aloof and, at least according to former Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy, for getting rid of "all the good black players" from the team.
Thurmond believes he has as good a read on Kelly as anyone who has been around the coach. The 27-year-old Thurmond was at Oregon when Kelly was the offensive coordinator and later the Ducks' coach. And now he's back with Kelly signing with the Eagles in the offseason following a one-year stint with the Giants.
"I don't think there's any problem at all [with Kelly]," Thurmond said. "I've been with him since my Oregon days and never had a problem with him. It's one of those things where you either get along with somebody or you don't. It's as simple as that."
Thurmond suggested that some players, including McCoy and cornerback Brandon Boykin, who was traded to the Steelers on Saturday and said Kelly was "uncomfortable around grown men of our culture," were upset with Kelly for varying reasons.
"When you're in one place for a long time and it's cut short, sometimes you have resentment toward the situation," said Thurmond, who played only two games for the Giants last year before suffering a season-ending pectoral injury. "That's just human nature."
Thurmond said Kelly is not a racist.
"To say that coach Kelly's a racist, I don't believe that comment at all," he said. "There are multiple ethnicities within the locker room, and to say that he favors only one specific type of people is ridiculous. If someone did feel that type of way, it could have been for a multitude of reasons."
Thurmond also suggested that Kelly not being buddy-buddy with his players is not necessarily a fault.
"Just to say that someone is not really forthcoming and going to go out of his way to make conversation sometimes . . . I'm that way," he said. "[Kelly's] personality or his characteristics, to fault him for that is ludicrous."