KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The day after the Eric Wintson storm in which he ripped Chiefs fans for seemingly cheering quarterback Matt Cassel getting hurt unveiled some new angles to the controversy.
Some videos from fans circulated the web suggesting that the timing of the cheers occurred more after Cassel was helped to his feet and walked to the sideline. The cheers also got louder as wide receiver Dwayne Bowe waved his arms and urged the fans to cheer, apparently in support of backup quarterback Brady Quinn entering the game.
Even Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel agreed it was unlikely that 70,000 Chiefs fans were cheering Cassel’s injury.
Meanwhile, Crennel also confirmed that Cassel indeed suffered a concussion from a hard hit in the second half of the Chiefs’ 9-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, and that he would be evaluated under the NFL’s protocol for treating concussion injuries.
Crennel would not rule Cassel out for Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay, but it seems likely that Quinn will make his first start for the Chiefs.
The hotter topic at Monday’s press conference with Crennel remained Winston’s ripping of Chiefs fans.
After Sunday’s game, Winston suggested he had heard 70,000 fans cheering Cassel getting hurt, and told the media, “….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 so embarrassed in my life to play football than at that moment right there.”
But fans took to the sports-radio airwaves Monday and to Twitter and disputed Winston’s claim that 70,000 fans were cheering Cassel’s injury.
“For one thing, it was the fourth quarter at Arrowhead,” one caller to WHB in Kansas City said, “so do you really think there were even 70,000 people still around?”
And Crennel doubted that figure as well.
“I don’t think (Winston) really meant 70,000,” Crennel said at Monday’s press conference. “If there was cheering….I know 70,000 fans weren’t cheering for him getting hurt. From my experience, the fans here…this is a great fan base. Are they frustrated? Sure. I’m frustrated, too.”
Crennel, though, said he isn’t sure he heard any cheering.
“But my focus isn’t on that,” he said. “When one of my players gets hurt, my focus is on that player. I really couldn’t tell if there was cheering or not. I’m trying to look after the health of my player and to get the backup, in this case Brady Quinn, ready for the game.”
Crennel also said he didn’t hear Winston’s comments after Sunday’s game but defended him for standing up for his quarterback.
“Eric has been around the league for awhile,” Crennel said. “He has some pride and some strong feelings for his teammates. If they get hurt, he’s going to stand up for them. He’s a guy who’s seen a lot in this league.”
Winston backed off his Sunday claim that all 70,000 Chiefs fans were cheering Cassel’s injury.
“I didn’t mean all 70,000 (fans) were cheering,” Winston said Monday. “It might have been 7,000. It might have been 700. It’s still too many.”
But Winston’s remarks after the game drew a harsh response, even from former Chiefs offensive lineman Rich Baldinger, who said Winston owed Kansas City fans an apology.
Baldinger said on local television station KCTV, “You cannot lump together everyone with a few …you know what, jerks. Let’s not put all these Kansas City fans together.”
As for Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay, it would appear Quinn is likely to be the starter, though Crennel wouldn’t rule Cassel out.
“Not totally,” Crennel said. “But the league has an emphasis on how we handle concussions. We will do our due diligence and not rush him back.”
Quinn likely will get the majority of reps in practice this week, making it harder for Cassel, even if he is cleared, to be ready for Sunday’s game.
“It will all depend on what the doctors tell him he can do and at what point,” Crennel said. “If he can’t do anything at all at practice, it will be hard-pressed for him to go on Sunday.”