TEMPE, Ariz. — Less than 24 hours after experiencing one of the “scarier moments” of his NFL career, Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell was in his normal gregarious mood as he spoke with the media Monday.
The scene was somewhat startling considering the 6-foot-8 Campbell exited Arizona’s 32-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the worst possible fashion: on a stretcher in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter.
While Campbell is
‘hopeful’ he’ll be able to suit up in Thursday night’s showdown with the Seattle Seahawks after suffering an apparent spinal bruise, the same word can’t be uttered with as much conviction as it relates to a notable section of fans that were in attendance for Sunday’s game.
As Campbell lay still on the Candlestick Park grass, the FOX broadcast panned over red and gold-clad fans around the stadium, many of whom were more interested in starting the wave than the defensive end’s status.
Several members of the 49ers’ organization took to social media after the 12-point victory to criticize the fans for their rather distasteful response to Campbell’s injury, but the six-year veteran admitted he didn’t have the same reaction to what transpired. In fact, Campbell was unaware that the wave had even taken place.
“I didn’t even know they were really doing it,” Campbell said. “When I got off the field, I gave the thumbs up and the crowd gave me a pretty good cheer. So I felt good about that. I felt a lot of love coming off the field. That was good for me.”
Although Campbell may have only been a witness to the crowd’s warm wishes, his teammate Yeremiah Bell was more than aware of what had taken place previously.
“I mean it wasn’t the right thing,” Bell said. “And even their players were trying to get them to stop, but they just kept going. Finally the crowd stopped, but I don’t think they knew to what extent [the injury was].”
Sadly, Sunday’s poor fan behavior was not limited to the Bay Area. Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub was forced to leave his team’s 38-16 loss to the St. Louis Rams after being taken down awkwardly on a sack by Chris Long in the third quarter. Instead of the type of silence that normally fills a stadium after a player on the home team goes down, Houston fans could be heard cheering loudly as the struggling quarterback was tended to on the Reliant Stadium turf.
The uncomfortable display left notable players on the Texans — Brian Cushing and Andre Johnson — to call the situation “barbaric” and “messed up.”
Bell was asked whether or not he believed the two incidents were indicative of a disconnect between fans and players in terms of the severity of injuries sustained on the field, and the Cardinals safety didn’t brush the question aside.
“I don’t think [fans understand the severity of injuries], especially when it’s in your own stadium, especially with a guy that you’ve been cheering year after year,” Bell said in reference to the Schaub incident. “I think it was disrespectful to treat him that way, especially when he’s on the ground and the extent of the injury isn’t known. That’s a tough situation.”