Fear and self-loathing in Kansas City

October 1999. Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin lies motionless on the Veterans Stadium turf. Almost 20 minutes go by before he is lifted onto a stretcher with his head in a makeshift brace and is wheeled off the field with a career-ending injury. All the while, cheers rain down from Eagles fans. A moment that then Philadelphia Mayor Edward Rendell had to admit "in terms of bad taste was as bad as it gets."

A classic moment of ugliness. But at least Irvin didn't have to hear the joy of thousands of people at the expense of his pain come from his home crowd. People he thought and believed had some semblance of love for him, even when he was at his worst on the field.

Kansas City Chiefs QB Matt Cassel isn't that lucky. His "Michael Irvin" moment came yesterday at a place he considered home, inside Arrowhead Stadium, as he lay on the turf with a head injury that forced him to be removed from the game.

The usual, customary and morally appropriate silence that accompanies serious injuries to players from their own fans didn't apply. Not for him. Not on this day. The cheers Cassel heard for the time he was down were probably more painful than the hit he took from the Ravens'Haloti Ngata that laid him out in the first place.

So here we are, America. Facing the truth of our internal hate; facing the depths of how low we can go.

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