Add Brandon Boykin to the list of former Eagles who believe ulterior racial motives play a part in Chip Kelly’s personnel decisions.
Boykin, a cornerback entering his fourth year, was dealt to the Steelers on Saturday night for a conditional fifth-round pick.
In a text message to Comcast SportsNet's Derrick Gunn, Boykin said Kelly is “uncomfortable around grown men of our culture.”
“He can't relate and that makes him uncomfortable,” Boykin added in the text message. “He likes total control of everything, and he don't like to be uncomfortable. Players excel when you let them naturally be who they are, and in my experience that hasn't been important to him, but you guys have heard this before me.”
The “heard this before me” reference pertains to other Eagles who were sent packing, one way or another, during Kelly’s tenure as head coach. Kelly’s third training camp starts Sunday at the NovaCare Complex.
Former Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, dealt in the offseason to Buffalo, told ESPN in May that Kelly quickly “got rid of all the good players. Especially all the good black players.”
Tra Thomas, the franchise’s former cornerstone left tackle who served as a defensive assistant last year under Kelly, said in March that some Eagles players believed there was a “hint of racism” in Kelly’s personnel decisions.
By the term “grown men of our culture,” Boykin seemed to suggest that Kelly is uncomfortable with mature African American athletes, but evidence points to the contrary.
Most of the black players drafted or signed by Kelly since he became head coach in 2013 -- Malcolm Jenkins, Jordan Matthews, DeMarco Murray, Nelson Agholor and Eric Rowe, just to name a small few -– have clean off-field images and are considered leaders by nature.
Kelly frequently talks about the importance of locker room culture and building a team around players of high character and intellect.
Kelly, who talks to reporters Sunday for the start of camp, has also defended himself against charges of making race-based personnel decisions.
“That doesn't hurt me,” Kelly said in May. “I'm not governed by the fear of what other people say. Events don't elicit feelings. I think beliefs elicit feelings. I understand what my beliefs are and I know how I am.”
Boykin, a 2012 fourth-round pick out of Georgia who became a fan favorite for his playmaking ability in the slot, thanked Eagles fans in his text message to Gunn, but didn’t have any nice words for his former coach.
“I love the city of Philly with all my heart. It's the only home other than Georgia that I have known,” he wrote. “My time in Philly was awesome. I'm forever grateful to Mr. Lurie, Howie, my teammates and fans of Philadelphia."
"I don't know. When talking to him last night, I think he was stunned [by the trade]," Kelly said. "He was disappointed. I think he really liked it here. Very close with his teammates."
Kelly said he was bothered and surprised by the comments.
"When he left here last night, he shook my hand and gave me a hug," Kelly said. "I like Brandon. I just don't know. I really don't know."