Celebrate The Good

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Let’s take a minute to address something that happened in the NFL yesterday, and then take some time to celebrate something good.

Matt Cassel, struggling quarterback of the struggling Kansas City Chiefs, got knocked out of the game yesterday – literally. He took a big hit and suffered a concussion as a result, lying motionless on the field for quite a few minutes.

And fans cheered.

Kansas City’s own fans. 

It was truly sickening. No one summarized it better than the Chiefs Right Tackle, Eric Winston:

From CBS Sports:

“We are athletes,” Winston said. “We are not gladiators. This isn’t the Roman Coliseum. People pay their hard-earned money to come in here, and I believe they can boo. They can cheer. They can do whatever they want. We’re lucky to play this game. A game. It’s hard economic times, and they still pay the money to do this, but when somebody gets hurt there are long-lasting ramifications to the game we play — long-lasting ramifications.

“I’ve already come to the understanding that I won’t live as long because I play this game, and that’s OK. That’s a choice I’ve made. That’s a choice all of us have made. But when you cheer somebody getting knocked out, I don’t care who it is, and it just so happened to be Matt Cassel, it’s sickening. It’s 100 percent sickening, and I’ve been in some rough times on some rough teams, and I’ve never been more embarrassed in my life to play football than in that moment right there.”

Gang, this is bad. It goes further than football – it speaks to the nature of our society. Lots of people are going to slay football today, saying that this is the result of a game that is no longer appropriate for our society due to it’s brutality, but I don’t think it’s football. I think it’s a culture that is, at times, uneducated, entitled, and immoral.

Personally, I believe that this is an unfortunate result of a society that no longer believes in the existence of absolute truths. The basic convictions of right and wrong seem to be lost. That has never been more evident than it was yesterday as 70,000 people cheered an injury that could have been at the very least career-threatening and at the very worst life-altering.

That was the bad and the ugly. But there was also good over the course of the football weekend, as the Colts overcame an 18-point deficit to beat the Packers in a victory that was 100% in honor of their head coach, Chuck Pagano. As a Packers fan, the loss concerns me because, good glory!, there are some glaring insufficiencies…everywhere. But even though the loss demoted the Packers to 2-3 on the season, I couldn’t have been happier for the Colts and Chuck Pagano. They truly deserved that win.

From Peter King:

There are a lot of stories in the naked city this morning — the Brees ascension over the great Unitas, the 49ers playing like the ’66 Packers, the air being let out of the Buffalo Counterfeit Bills, Eric Winston in a rage, Wes Welker with a needle, Chicago playing piranha defense, Minnesota shocking the world, Atlanta off to the best start in its history — but there is one story that stands above them all. The story is the game of the year.

Halftime score in Indianapolis: Packers 21, Colts 3.
Final score in Indianapolis: Chuck Pagano 30, Packers 27.

A few minutes before the start of Sunday’s game at Lucas Oil Field, just before going out for introductions, interim Colts coach Bruce Arians found his cell phone and texted five words to one of his best friends in coaching, head coach Chuck Pagano. Arians actually hoped Pagano was sleeping, but he knew better. The coach was two miles down the street from the stadium, in room C23 at the Indiana University Simon Cancer Center when Arians’ text showed up.

“Don’t think you’re not here.”

This is why we  love sports. This is why football matters.

Let’s be part of the intelligent fan base that refuses to celebrate violence but LOVES to celebrate true sportsmanship. Because it matters. It really, really, matters.

Just ask Chuck Pagano.