Chiefs offensive tackle Eric Winston sat at his locker and chose his words wisely following a 9-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens before an angry crowd at Arrowhead Stadium. And then he ripped into the Kansas City faithful for cheering Matt Cassel as he was knocked out of the game.
"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,” Winston told media gathered around him.
Although Cassel turned the ball over four times in the loss, Winston defended his quarterback, who left the game with an injury. Cassel was replaced by Brady Quinn after suffering a head injury.
"When somebody gets hurt, there are long lasting ramifications to the game we play, long lasting ramifications to the game we play,” Winston said. “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.
"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."