Eric Winston defends his criticism of Chiefs fans

10/08/2012 6:55 PM

10/09/2012 11:53 PM

One day after creating a storm around Kansas City — and the country — with his critical comments about Chiefs fans, tackle Eric Winston said he didn’t regret his words.

“I meant what I said. I didn’t say it off the cuff. … I look back on it, and I’m happy with what I said,” Winston said.

Winston was angry on Sunday about the reaction of some Chiefs fans during the team’s 9-6 loss to Baltimore at Arrowhead Stadium when quarterback Matt Cassel was down on the field immediately after suffering a concussion.

Some Chiefs fans cheered, though whether their reaction was aimed at Cassel’s misfortune or the imminent change to Brady Quinn at quarterback is uncertain.

What appeared to bother Chiefs fans the most Sunday night and Monday is that Winston seemed to indict everyone at the game, rather than the portion who were cheering when Cassel was injured.

Winston said he did regret that part of his postgame diatribe.

“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. Of anything I said, that’s the one thing that might have been misconstrued. That was the one thing just looking back on it that I want to make sure people know, that I didn’t think it was the whole stadium.”

Winston’s comments sparked more than anger among Chiefs fans in Kansas City. They were played repeatedly on ESPN throughout the day on Monday, turning a local story into a national one.

“I’m surprised by the national play it’s gotten,” he said. “I’m not too terribly surprised by the local play it’s gotten.

“I’ve gotten an overwhelming amount of support. I think there’s always people going to be upset. I don’t think you’re ever going to make everyone happy. But I stand by what I said. I didn’t mean to paint the whole crowd with the same brush, but I do feel like if that’s the way you think, and if you think that’s OK, then I think we’ve got problems with society.”

Winston said he could understand the frustration of Chiefs fans. The Chiefs began the season with high hopes but are 1-4 and haven’t had a lead during any of their five games.

“I sense a great amount of frustration,” said Winston, who until signing a free-agent deal with the Chiefs this summer had played all of his previous six years as a pro in Houston. “If Texas is a football state, Kansas City is a football city. You can tell that by how frustrated they are.

“At the same time, I’m not going to go down that path of trying to minimize what happened by saying, ‘It was frustration, so it’s OK.’ There’s a pretty clear line what’s OK and what’s not OK.”

Despite being an offensive lineman, a group of guys who are more often seen and not heard, Winston was wildly popular with Texans fans. He was on his way to becoming just as popular with fans in Kansas City until he made his comments on Sunday.

But Winston said he wouldn’t change his outspoken ways.

“I probably talk too much sometimes,” he said. “I’ve never been one to bottle things up inside. That’s always been me. When I was 10, that was me. I’m not going to mince words or try to downplay how I feel. If I think something’s wrong, I’m going to think something’s wrong.”

Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said he wasn’t bothered by Winston’s comments, though he didn’t necessarily agree with them.

“I know 70,000 didn’t cheer for him being hurt,” Crennel said. “There might have been some cheering for him being hurt. This season has been a disappointing season the way it has gone.

“From my experience, the fans here in Kansas City are good fans. Now, are they frustrated? Yes, they are. I’m frustrated with how it’s gone.”

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