NFL players rip fans for cheering head injury

When 330-pound Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata plowed into 230-pound Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel in the fourth quarter of the Ravens' 9-6 victory Sunday, somewhat predictably, Cassel was severely hurt.

It's football. These types of injuries happen.

But what happened next, after Cassel was removed from the game for an apparent head injury, was unusual.

Cassel's injury prompted applause from some fans in Kansas City, perhaps some of them the same ones who paid for an airplane to tow a banner before the game pleading for Cassel to be benched and for Chiefs ownership to fire general manager Scott Pioli.

The cheering didn't sit well with members of the Chiefs, either.

"I think it's sickening and disgusting," Chiefs offensive tackle Eric Winston said angrily. "We are not gladiators and this is not the Roman Colosseum. This is a game. This is a game that's going to cost us a lot down the road. That's OK. We picked it. We deserve it. I don't want your pity. But we've got a lot of problems as a society if people think that's OK."

Concussions in football have become a sensitive topic to players as the evidence mounts that many who suffer them -- which is a vast majority of those who suit up on Sundays -- face a potential shortened life span, early loss of motor skills and memory, as well as a host of other potential complications.

The burgeoning discussion over head injuries in football almost certainly led to the fans' cheers over Cassell's injury to strike a nerve in both locker rooms after the Chiefs-Ravens game.

After the game, Haloti Ngata expressed sympathy for the man he injured, according to ESPN.

"I knew I hit him hard, but I didn't think it was hard enough to take him out. I thought I hit him right in the ribs," Ngata said. "Hopefully, he bounces back and gets better. For them to cheer for him being hurt, that's just not cool."