Found October 08, 2012 on Read And React:
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Throughout Sunday’s Chiefs-Ravens game, the hometown Kansas City fans booed quarterback Matt Cassel as they watched the Chiefs’ offense stumble toward a 9-6 loss. And with some good reason. Cassel threw for only 92 yards, with 2 interceptions and 2 lost fumbles, as the Chiefs fell to 1-4 on the year. Fans had come brandishing anti-Cassel signs, and at one point, a banner flew over Arrowhead Stadium that read: “WE DESERVE BETTER! FIRE PIOLI - BENCH CASSEL!”


Now, your run-of-the-mill booing and banner-flying is one thing. But during the 4th quarter, some Chiefs fans crossed the line of what most would consider good taste and sportsmanship by actually cheering when Cassel was knocked out of the game with a concussion after getting drilled by Haloti Ngata (VIDEO HERE).


Eric Winston leans over his injured QB (Photo: Bo Rader/kansascity.com)


After the game, Chiefs RT Eric Winston called out the Kansas City fans with a rant for the ages for what he called their “sickening” and “disgusting” behavior. It was an impassioned and eloquent statement by Winston, and is worth watching in its entirety (VIDEO BELOW) … but here are the money quotes (which is most of what he said):


“We are athletes, OK? We are athletes. We are not gladiators. This is not the Roman Coliseum. People pay their hard-earned money when they come in here and I believe they can boo, they can cheer and they can do whatever they want. Because I believe that. We are lucky to play this game. People … it’s hard economic times, and they still pay the money to do this. 


“But when somebody gets hurt, there are long lasting ramifications to the game we play. Long lasting ramifications to the game we play. Alright? I’ve already kind of come to the understanding that I probably won’t live as long because I play this game and that’s OK, that’s a choice I’ve made and a choice all of us have made.


 ”But when you cheer, when you cheer somebody getting knocked out, I don’t care who it is, and it just so happened to be Matt Cassel — it’s sickening. It’s 100 percent sickening. I’ve never ever -and I’ve been in some rough times on some rough teams – I’ve never been more embarrassed in my life to play football than in that moment right there.


VIDEO OF WINSTON’S SPEECH AFTER THE JUMP



Winston continued to blast those fans who saw fit to cheer a man getting injured while playing a game, even getting emotional while defending his quarterback:


“I get emotional about it because these guys, they work their butts off. Matt Cassel hasn’t done anything to you people, hasn’t done anything to you people. Hasn’t done anything to the media writers that kill him, hasn’t done anything wrong to the people that come out here and cheer him. Hey, if he’s not the best quarterback then he’s not the best quarterback and that’s OK. But he’s a person. And he got knocked out in a game and we have 70,000 people cheering that he got knocked out?


“Boo him all you want. Boo me all you want. Throw me under the bus. Tell me I’m doing a bad job. Say I gotta protect him more. Do whatever you want. Say whatever you want. But if you are one of those people, one of those people that were out there cheering or even smiled when he got knocked out, I just want to let you know, and I want everybody to know that I think it’s sickening and disgusting. We are not gladiators and this is not the Roman Coliseum. This is a game.


[...]


“It’s sickening. And I was embarrassed. I want every single one of you people to put this on your station and in your newspapers because I want every fan to know that. This is a game that’s going to cost us a lot down the road. That’s OK. We picked it, we deserve it and I don’t want your pity. But we have a lot of problems as a society if people think that’s OK.


Here, here. Winston, of course, is right about pretty much everything he said, and it’s impressive to hear an NFL athlete express himself so clearly, poignantly, and dead on.


Even Ravens players felt bad for Cassel, and backed up Winston’s words:


“That’s not cool,” Ngata said. “He’s your quarterback. For them to cheer for him being hurt, that’s just not cool.”


 After the game, Cassel was visibly upset.


“It was sad to see the fans cheer for somebody getting hurt,” (nose guard Ma’ake) Kemoeatu said. “It’s a horrible situaiton. I hope he’s fine.”


Some have suggested that the fans were actually cheering for the entrance of backup Brady Quinn, not Cassel’s injury. But Winston defended his criticism today, although he did say he misspoke when he said it was all 70,000 fans cheering.


Let’s just hope some of those Chiefs fans – and other fans around the NFL who might consider cheering in a similar situation – genuinely listen to Winston’s words, try to put things in perspective, and take a minute to reflect on their behavior.



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