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Chiefs unhappy over fans cheering injury to Cassel

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Chiefs unhappy over fans cheering injury to Cassel

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Members of the Kansas City Chiefs angrily spoke out Sunday against thousands of fans who cheered when quarterback Matt Cassel left a 9-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens with a head injury.

Cassel has been the focus of frustrated fans for the past couple years, many of them booing him when he appeared during a celebrity softball game this summer. Some had even hired an airplane to fly over Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday with a banner asking for him to be benched.

The angst reached a tipping point when Cassel, who committed four turnovers against Baltimore, was hammered by the Ravens' Haloti Ngata while completing a pass in the fourth quarter.

Cassel remained on his back for several minutes while fans began to cheer. He eventually got to his feet with some help and walked off the field under his own power.

``It's 100-percent sickening,'' Chiefs tackle Eric Winston said. ``I've never, ever - and I've been in some rough times on some rough teams - I've never been more embarrassed in my life to play football than at that moment right there. I get emotional about it because these guys, they work their butts off. Matt Cassel hasn't done anything to you people.

``Hey, if he's not the best quarterback, he's not the best quarterback, and that's OK, but he's a person,'' Winston continued, the big offensive lineman's voice slowly rising. ``And he got knocked out in a game and we've got 70,000 people cheering that he got knocked out.''

The Chiefs have only said that Cassel has a ``head injury,'' and coach Romeo Crennel said he wasn't sure whether he'd been taken to a hospital. Brady Quinn finished the game.

``We are not gladiators and this is not the Roman Colosseum. This is a game,'' said Winston, who spoke to Cassel briefly in the locker room after the 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.''

Cassel was intercepted twice by the Ravens, though both passes were tipped. He was also hit with two lost fumbles, one of them on a pitch that was mishandled by running back Cyrus Gray and the other on a flubbed exchange with Kansas City facing first-and-goal at the Baltimore 1.

``It's not right, you know what I'm saying? I'll speak that for any stadium, any player to get hurt,'' said Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, who missed most of last season with a torn ACL.

``When someone gets booed, it's not right. It's his health. You know what I'm saying? He got hurt. You have to respect,'' Charles said. ``It wasn't right that he got booed.''

Once a Pro Bowl quarterback, Cassel is completing just 58.5 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and nine interceptions. He's averaging just 6.5 yards per pass attempt.

``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.''

As for the cheering? Even the Ravens thought it uncouth.

``For them to cheer for him being hurt,'' Ngata said, ``that's just not cool.''

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Lamar Jackson is his own biggest critic

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Lamar Jackson is his own biggest critic

Kick off your Friday with the latest Baltimore Ravens news including how quarterback Lamar Jackson has fared during OTAs.

Player/Team Notes: 

1. Following a January surgery on his left ankle, safety Tony Jefferson remains sidelined after the first week of OTAs. Originally, Jefferson was expected to return 4-6 weeks after surgery. However, now that it's 5 months later, his return timetable is becoming more and more concerning. 

2. Quarterback Lamar Jackson spoke with Ravens media Thursday about his progress not only learning the new offense implemented by Offensive Coordinator, Greg Roman, but learning the names of his new teammates as well. After another day of OTAs, Jackson was his biggest critic despite a solid day of running plays namely passing drills. “I’d say my first day, I sucked,” Jackson said to Ravens media. “Second day, I did better. Today was alright, but it could have been better. I always try to be perfect in practice. It was alright for the first week.”

Looking Ahead:

July 15: 4 p.m. deadline to get a long-term deal done with designated franchise tag players.

The 2019 NFL schedule is set! See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

Credit: Rotoworld and Baltimore Ravens for news points.

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'I started to realize that I’m not broken': Steve Smith opens up about mental health and depression

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'I started to realize that I’m not broken': Steve Smith opens up about mental health and depression

Former Carolina Panthers' star receiver Steve Smith spoke in front of a crowd of over 400 people at the fifth annual Wake up for Wellness breakfast that was sponsored by Mental Health America of Central Carolinas.

The 16-year veteran and current NFL Network analyst touched on the importance of seeking help for bouts with depression and spoke of battles that he has faced with the disease.

“On the outside you’ll see a tough exterior. But on the inside, I’m just broken or I believe even more broken than the average man. ... Because when the stadium goes dark and the cheers stop, you’re still looking for that pat on the back,” Smith said. “Throughout my whole career, I struggled with that.”

Smith discussed that in the beginning, he was so concerned about the stigma regarding mental health, that he opted for the professional to meet him for housecalls, and as time passed he realized the importance of speaking up.

“I started to realize that I’m not broken,” he said. “I’m not being sent back to the manufacturer ... I get up every morning and figure it out.”

Smith's comments on the issue came to light just a day after the NFL and NFLPA announced new legislation that focuses on mental well being.

The newly formed Comprehensive Mental Health and Wellness Committee will develop programs for members of the NFL in addition to collaborating with local and national mental health and suicide prevention organizations. Each team will be mandated to retain a Behavioral Health Team Clinician for assistance that will be required to be available to players at the individual team facilities for at least 8-12 hours per week and must conduct mandatory mental health education sessions for players and coaching staff.

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