Chiefs’ Winston criticizes fans who cheered when Cassel was hurt
By RANDY COVITZ
The Kansas City Star
Chiefs offensive tackle Eric Winston chose his words carefully but ripped the fans who cheered when quarterback Matt Cassel suffered a head injury in the fourth quarter and was removed from Sunday’s 9-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
“We are athletes. We are not gladiators,” Winston said. “This isn’t the Roman Coliseum. People pay their hard-earned money to come in here. I believe they can boo, they can cheer, they can do whatever they want … we’re lucky to play this game. It’s hard economic times, and they still pay the money to go to these.
“There are long-lasting ramifications to the game we play … I’ve come to the understanding I won’t live as long because I play this game. That’s OK.
“But when you cheer somebody getting knocked out, I don’t care who it is, and just so happened to be Matt Cassel, it’s 100 percent sickening. I’ve been in some rough times on some rough teams, I’ve never been so embarrassed in my life to play football, than at that moment right there.
“I get emotional about it because these guys work their butts off. Matt Cassel hasn’t done anything to you people … hasn’t done anything to the media writers who kill him, hasn’t done anything wrong to the people who come out here and cheer him. If he’s not the best quarterback, 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 got 70,000 people cheering. 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’ve got to protect him more … but if you’re one of those people who were out there cheering, or even smiled, when he got knocked out, I just want everyone to know it’s sickening and disgusting.
“Don’t blame a guy and don’t cheer for a guy (when injured) who has done everything in his power to play as good as he can for the fans. It’s sickening. I want every fan to know it. We have a lot of problems as a society if people think that’s okay.”
Winston said in the seven years he’s played in the NFL, it’s the first time he’s seen a quarterback cheered when injured at home.
“And I’ve been on some bad teams and in some tough situations,” he said. “I know the fans are frustrated. We’re frustrated. And I understand the backup quarterback is sometimes the most popular guy on the team. I get it. But it’s not OK.”
Winston said he spoke with Cassel after the game but did not want to comment on Cassel’s condition.
“We had a private conversation … “ Winston said. “ I asked, ‘How are you feeling?’ I said some words to him, and that was it.”