Chiefs OT Winston speaks–but is done talking
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Chiefs fans had their say at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday. So did Chiefs offensive tackle Eric Winston.
But don’t expect the issue to fade away anytime soon.
Twitter and comments sections lit up after some Chiefs fans seemingly cheered when much-maligned starting quarterback Matt Cassel went down with an injury during Sunday’s Chiefs-Ravens game, and after Winston tore into those Chiefs fans in a post-game interview, condemning the cheering.
“We are athletes,” Winston said. “We are not gladiators. This isn’t the Roman Coliseum….
“I don’t care who it is, and it just so happened to be Matt Cassel, it’s sickening. It’s 100 percent sickening, and I’ve been in some rough times on some rough teams, and I’ve never been more embarrassed in my life to play football than in that moment right there.”
Cassel has been booed throughout the season and, in fact, was even booed during the celebrity softball game held before the All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium in July. Those frustrations with the Chiefs starting quarterback apparently flowed over on Sunday, though that was no excuse in Winston’s mind.
“If he’s not the best quarterback, he’s not the best quarterback and that’s OK,” Winston said. “But he’s a person, and he got knocked out in a game, and we’ve got 70,000 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 got to protect him more, but if you’re 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.”
Winston’s comments quickly drew support on Twitter from fans and from national media types.
“You are a voice that needs to be heard when it comes to many football fan’s perspective on this game,” one fan tweeted.
“Eric Winston should be NFL’s player of the week,” another fan tweeted.
Jay Glazer of FOXSports.com tweeted, “Great, honest riff here.”
Adam Schefter of ESPN tweeted, “(Winston) sounds, off – rightfully.”
And Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post tweeted, “Bravo, Eric Winston, bravo.”
But not all Chiefs fans agreed with Winston’s assessment, nor his recollection of Sunday’s events.
“I spent over $15k on the #Chiefs in past 4 years. Cassel made $60 million. I’ll boo him for whatever (reason) I want to and Eric Winston should (just) block,” one Chiefs fan tweeted,
“Eric Winston making a small pocket of fans into a new city-wide stereotype. 70,000 people didn’t cheer the injury,” another fan tweeted.
The reaction was even harsher when a story about Winston’s post-game comments appeared online at kansascity.com.
“Dear Eric ‘still new to town and got burned by the Chargers last week’ Winston: Get your facts straight. I was at the game. The fans applauded when Cassel got up as he was about to be walked off the field. We always applaud injured players who get up. The really loud applause occurred when Quinn came into the game,” wrote one fan.
“I agree with the previous post that the fans were likely cheering because at least a change would have to be made at QB,” another fan observed.
“You may get your wish Winston and the stands will be nearly empty with serious fans staying away from the crap you and your group have produced on the field this season. Yes, fans work as hard and in nearly every case harder than you professionals do for a fraction of what you make. So damn them for being passionate about their team and demanding you pros actually put the best players on the field to win,” another fan wrote.
And a more diplomatic fan commented, “I get Winston’s comments and he’s right. But the emotion of the game and the fan’s’ discontent with Cassel’s poor performance this entire season swept over them collectively. I lay some of the blame at Romeo Crennel’s feet for not listening to those same fans who have been calling for a change at quarterback.”
Yet another fan may have have summed up what many Chiefs fans felt hearing the cheers, “Let us not lower our standards to become Raiders fans.”
The topic of cheering an injured player is likely to gain plenty of steam nationally this week, on talk shows coast to coast.
But don’t necessarily expect Winston to continue to join in the debate.
Winston tweeted after his post-game interview, “I’ve said what I wanted to say and I won’t be talking about it any further. I stand by what I have said. I believe what I said.”