Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Eric Winston made plenty of headlines earlier this week when he ripped into the hometown fans, who he heard cheering when Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel was injured in Sunday’s loss to Baltimore. He’s heard from plenty that respect his stance and admire him for speaking out, but he’s also heard from plenty who either think he misinterpreted the situation or went too far in his comments. Either way, he’s not backing down from them.
Eric Winston joined KILT in Houston with Josh Innes and Rich Lord to discuss the fallout from his comments over the weekend, if there was any chance he misinterpreted the situation, player safety and what a locker room is like when a starting quarterback is receiving a healthy dose of criticism.
How have you responded to some of the backlash you’ve received in Kansas City?:
“That’s the way it goes. I’ve said my peace. I told everybody yesterday that I was done talking about it, and I am. I’ve said what I felt like I needed to say and what needed to be said and that’s really it. I understand everyone’s not going to agree with me. I had to learn that the tough way a long time ago playing sports, that not everyone’s going to like it, not everyone’s going to agree with you, not everyone’s going to be a fan of your’s. That’s just the way it goes. … It’s time to move on.”
Some say you misinterpreted what the crowd was reacting to. Is there any doubt in your mind what you heard and saw?:
“I stand by what I said. I was there; I was on the field. It was obvious to me, but like I said, people are going to make their own conclusions. I’ve had a lot of support. I’ve had a lot of people that have emailed me from around the league. I had a person, today, stop me in my car when I was leaving the store and they just wanted to say, ‘Thank you.’ … I’ve had a lot of people that were there, teammates that their families were talking about it after the game. It wasn’t just me. … The only thing that matters to me in this game is the respect of your teammates and the respect of your peers.”
You also talked about the health risks of playing. Do you think what we’ve learned in the past few years might cause you to hang it up earlier than you might have otherwise?:
“I don’t know. I’ve certainly been lucky in that department — not necessarily injuries and not necessarily effects. I’ve had my share of operations and I’ve had my share of injuries, but of course we’re talking about the big head ones and the big injuries. … I think every football player needs to make that decision for themself. … I used to say that I was going to play until they took that jersey away from me. I don’t know if that’s the case anymore.”
You stood up for your quarterback Matt Cassel. When the leader of your team is taking as much heat as he is, what are the other effects in the locker room?:
“I think when you play this game, especially if you play it for a while, you know some of that is going to happen. … It’s just one of those things that you rally around your guy. He’s your guy and there’s a reason he’s your guy. I believe in Cassel; I believe in what he’s done. … That quarterback position, especially in this day and age where it’s so much of the gameplan and so much of the game surrounds him now, they catch a lot of flak. But you’ve got to rally up and and you’ve got to do everything you can to help that position.”