I've never taken issue with how Philadelphia Eagles fans react to situations on the field, not even the infamous Santa Claus booing that happened many years before I was born.
But after the rumble of boos and applause following a scary injury to Colts wideout Austin Collie due to a questionable penalty being called, I have to question their reaction.
Let me begin by saying I believe the hit on Collie was completely legal and a penalty never should have been called.
Collie was not a defenseless receiver, and although there was minor helmet-to-helmet contact, it happened after initial contact with Collie leaning down in an attempt to protect his ribs and was not intentional.
Despite the legality of the hit and a penalty being called that I believe never should have been, there are certain instances in which questionable calls by officials take a backseat to real life.
Collie laid motionless on the field, hands frozen much like Anquan Boldin looked following a hit by the Jets' Eric Smith a couple of years ago.
I'm not sure how most people reacted to the hit, but after witnessing Reggie Brown go down in 1997 during Barry Sanders' 2,000-yard game, every time I see a player lie on the field for a considerable amount of time and then be required to be strapped to a stretcher, the last thing I'm concerned with is what happened on the play in question.
My mind is on the welfare of the player, not whether officials botched a call.
I'm all for giving a ref the business when he makes a mistake; believe me, I have. But the issue I have here is there is a man lying on the field with what could have been a career-threatening, even life-changing injury and you cannot give him, his teammates and his family the respect they deserve as they wait to see whether or not their friend, their son, their sibling or spouse is going to be able to walk again?
It's appalling to me that this happens even once, but I see this on a regular basis, whether it's some drunken idiot at a Central Michigan game or some inconsiderate fans attending a game I watch on TV.
Many people do not stop to think that there are other things more important than what is happening in their lives as they watch a game. Situations like this go beyond entertaining the masses on the gridiron.
Football plays a large role in my life. It provides me many opportunities, and hopefully one day it will garner me a living—but I have to believe that no matter how wrapped up in a game I am, I would have the decency to keep my mouth shut until the player is carted off the field.
I am not telling fans across the country and across the world not to take offense to horrible calls. I'm simply asking, why it is so difficult to be empathetic toward the player's situation?
This game is a dangerous one, and luckily for us, we do not need to risk our well-being in order to enjoy it. But players, while afforded the opportunity to play football for a considerable amount of money, risk plenty every week.
So the next time someone goes down, remember that some things are more important than a 15-yard penalty, and no matter the outcome, we as fans will live.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!