Former Texan Eric Winston Rips Chiefs Fans Cheering Matt Cassel's Concussion
Eric Winston has opinions on lots of things, and he's not afraid to express them. It's what made him a favorite of most of the media and a large portion of the fan base during his time in Houston. Eric Winston was an open book, and for better or worse, Texan fans felt like they knew him.
The right stuff, not according to fans.
Winston has since moved on; he is now a Kansas City Chief. Chiefs fans who felt like maybe they were still getting to know Winston became well acquainted with him Sunday afternoon, particularly those Chiefs fans who openly cheered when quarterback Matt Cassel lay splattered and concussed on the Arrowhead Stadium turf.
Cassel is Winston's quarterback, for better or worse. That's his guy. With Cassel throwing nine interceptions in five games and fumbling at the goal line in Sunday's 9-6 loss to the Ravens, there's been a lot more "worse" than "better," and it all came to a head Sunday afternoon.
Cassel made mistakes, got his brains scrambled, fans applauded (well before he got up), and about 45 minutes later, Winston unloaded on the bloodthirsty approvers in the locker room with this tirade:
"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, I believe that. We are lucky to play this game. People, it's hard to 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. I've already kinda come to the understanding that I 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 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.
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.
I'll sit here and I'll answer all your questions for the next 30 minutes if you want to ask them and I'll take all the responsibility I can take because I deserve it but don't blame a guy, and don't cheer for a guy who has done everything in his power to play as good as he can for the fans.
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.
I'll get off my soap box and you guys can ask any football question you want."
I've talked to dozens of NFL players, privately and on my radio show, and if there's one common disconnect between the players and the fans in general, it's that the players can't comprehend why the fans don't emote over them as if they were "real people," as opposed to "gladiators," to use Winston's word. The players put in countless hours of work, risk taking years off of their lives, guarantee that the years they do spend on this earth are pain-filled from the punishment they take, and yet the fans boo. Worse, as witnessed today, fans cheer when underperformers get injured.
Players are baffled by this.