Matt Cassel has not been playing football very well for the Chiefs this year. In fact, let’s call a spade a spade. Matt Cassel kind of sucks this year. When he was knocked out of the game due to a concussion last Sunday, many fans breathed a sigh of relief that their interception and fumble laden quarterback was out of the game.
This is a natural reaction; if the Chiefs coaches did not see fit to replace Cassel, then God, Haloti Ngata, or whoever controls such things would. Yet, instead of having that collective sigh followed by instant guilt that they were cheering the injury of a fellow human being, Chiefs' fans cheered when Cassel went down. This goes beyond poor sportsmanship. It goes beyond sports in general. What fans did on Sunday was an example of poor human behavior.
Perhaps fans did not know how seriously Cassel was injured. Perhaps they did not understand what the ramifications of concussions are, or what a concussion is. There are many reasons that could be used to excuse the behavior of the Chiefs fans, but when it boils down to it, this is what they were cheering for:
Concussion comes from two Latin terms: concutere ("to shake violently") or oncussus ("action of striking together"). Sounds innocent enough, doesn’t it? It’s not when the thing being shaken violently is your brain and the things striking together are your brain and the inside of your skull.
Many things happen after a concussion. Your brain rattles around in your head, and most of the time you pass out. Sometimes when you wake up, you have double vision and an awful headache. The long term effects are not known, but it does seem that not only are people that have had a concussion are more likely to have one later, but their risk for developing Parkinson’s disease, dementia, or depression. For examples, look up the players Junior Seau and Jim McMahon.
That’s not all. If a concussion is bad enough, it can form an intracranial bleed. This is when blood starts pooling in your brain, increasing intracranial pressure and pushing the brain farther down into the spinal cord. If not caught early enough, this can lead to permanent brain damage or even death.
If you think that this can only happen to victims of major trauma, such as car accidents or severe falls, think again; I once had a patient on my ambulance that fell on two steps and struck the back of his head. He died two days later from an intracranial bleed. And falling down two steps generates nowhere near the amount of force as being hit by a 320 pound defensive lineman running at full speed.
Chiefs' fans Sunday were happy to cheer an injury that not only shook Cassel’s brain, but also put him at risk of future illness. This is completely unacceptable. Matt Cassel may stink as a quarterback, but he certainly is not a bad person. He even saved a woman from burning to death earlier this year. This does not sound like someone that deserves to die or be seriously impaired the rest of his life. Chiefs' fans clearly disagree and, in my opinion, should send Cassel a collective apology for their actions. It just might give them some of their humanity back, and remind us that in the end, football is just a game.