All I can say is…IT’S ABOUT TIME!!! What I mean is that it’s about time athletes started standing up for the “right thing” by voicing criticism toward those who have no clue on what the right thing is. That is my take on Eric Winston’s comments regarding the cheering by Chiefs fans after Kansas City quarterback, Matt Cassel, was injured severely enough to knock him out of the game. Go get ’em Eric!!!
After taking a hard shot against Baltimore this past weekend, and Cassel’s subsequent removal from the game because of that hit, Kansas City fans cheered. Seriously…they applauded the injury and removal of their own quarterback (not that it would have been any better to applaud the injury of the opponent’s quarterback, nor any player for that matter).
In support of his quarterback, and athletes in general, Chiefs right tackle Eric Wilson had this to say to the media:
"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 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.”
Kind of sums up my feelings as well, especially this “…we have a lot of problems as a society if people think that's OK.”
When professional athletes, as a whole, start coming out in force against behavior that is unsportsmanlike and/or demonstrates a “winning at all costs” attitude…that is when things will begin to change. And I am not just talking about the unsportsmanlike behavior shown by these fans, but ALL inappropriate, unsportsmanlike, unethical, and even illegal (as in PED use), types of behavior that support a “winning at all costs” sports culture.
Thanks, Mr. Winston, your willingness to speak out could very well be a start to something that makes a difference for all. A trickle-down effect from something like this would certainly be welcomed.