Kansas City Chiefs right tackle Eric Winston has defended his comments ripping fans of the team for cheering the injury of struggling quarterback Matt Cassel, although he regrets pointing the finger at all of Sunday’s spectators.
“We are athletes, OK? We are athletes. We are not gladiators. This is not the Roman Coliseum,” Winston said after Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens at Arrowhead Stadium.
“It’s 100 percent sickening,” Winston added. “If he’s not the best quarterback, 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’ve got 70,000 people cheering that he got knocked out.”
Cassel was hit by the Ravens’ Haloti Ngata while completing a pass to Jamaal Charles during the fourth quarter. He remained on the ground for several minutes before walking off the field and straight to the locker room. The Chiefs announced Monday that Cassel sustained a concussion and is unlikely to play this weekend against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Backup quarterback Brady Quinn will replace Cassel.
Even some Ravens players thought the cheering was out of line.
“For them to cheer for him being hurt,” Ngata said, “that’s just not cool.”
Winston, 28, Monday stood by his comments criticizing the fans. “I meant what I said,” Winston said, according to the Kansas City Star. I didn’t say it off the cuff. … I look back on it, and I’m happy with what I said.”
“I didn’t mean all 70,000 [fans] were cheering,” he said. “It might have been 7,000. It might have been 700. It’s still too many,” he added.
Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel told the Star that said he wasn’t bothered by Winston’s comments, although he didn’t necessarily agree with them.
“I know 70,000 didn’t cheer for him being hurt,” Crennel said.
Cassel, 30, has been under the microscope after getting off to a rough start through the first five games of the new season. Cassel was intercepted twice and charged with two fumbles before the injury. He has nine interceptions on the year with only five touchdowns.
Cassel appeared in only nine games last season after season-ending hand surgery. To say fans are frustrated with him is an understatement after a 1-4 start to the season.
Before Sunday’s game, a plane flew over the stadium with a banner pleading for Cassel to be benched.