in the history of sports journalism and becomes a “star” for 15 minutes. (Perhaps he’ll be the next “out of towner” our competitors from CBS Radio will bring into town to frivolously sue the local market leaders here at WNST.net?)
I spent the 1980’s and early 1990’s as a traveling Houston Oilers fan, traversing the east coast from Cleveland to Pittsburgh to New England watching my favorite team play in a powder blue jersey. It didn’t take me long to realize my own personal risk when a drunken Jets fan was trying to smack my head against the wall of a Meadowlands bathroom while I was standing facing a urinal with my fly open in the upper deck. Of course, he was being encouraged to do so by virtually everyone else in the men’s room.
In 1998 at the then-MCI Center in Washington before Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals, I saw a Red Wings fan push a Caps in the upper deck. The Caps fan lost his balance, flipped over a seat and busted his head open on a seat. When the blood started gushing, the Caps fans proceeded to wildly swing at the Detroit fan and it took security and D.C. police a full five minutes to get to the fracas cleared up. This happened during the pre-game skate. The janitors came with a mop, sopped up the blood and the game went on. Of course, in the NHL the league is as culpable as anyone when they encourage, allow and wildly cheer every bare-knuckled brawl on the ice.
At the Ravens Halloween game in Philadelphia six years ago, I watched a girl from Baltimore in a Jamal Lewis jersey get called a whore for three quarters by hundreds of Eagles fans. It was relentless, lawless and ruthless. Her boyfriend sat next to her and couldn’t say a word.
So, as a person of integrity who has a little “pull” and the ear of many of the movers and shakers in the NFL, I’ve pulled aside at least a dozen owners, executives and coaches in the league and told them that at some point someone will be killed in the upper deck of one of their stadiums.
I’ve even offered a solution – one that the World Cup and many soccer leagues have adopted — a ceremonial handshake and a proclamation on the pitch prior to the game to commit to the spirit of the competition.
I’ve told the NFL people that they should have a pre-game video handshake and commentary from their stars imploring the fans to behave appropriately in the stands and in every bar across America and have Ben Roethlisberger shake hands with Ray Lewis and say that while they’re fighting for a title on the field, they will shake hands at the end of the game and NFL fans should do the same thing. I said they could have a motto about “keeping the peace,” just like the Ravens have “don’t be a jerk.”
When I told that to a handful of NFL coaches at the owner’s meeting three years ago, I was roundedly laughed at and belittled. But no one in the NFL seems to get it because people like Steve Bisciotti and Dick Cass have never sat in the upper deck of a real NFL game. I’ve done it 16 times a year for the last 15 years.
And I know I’m right.
Someone WILL die in the upper deck of an NFL game at some point. You watch….
I’ve seen the fights, which are only exacerbated in my opinion by the explosion of television violence and MMA fights every Saturday, where blood-thirsty people drink beer and essentially watch as two men try to kill each other with their bare hands.
It’s all funny when an idiot like Adam Jones tells Orioles fans to “knock the s**t” of our Yankees fans until someone actually does it.
And a lifelong baseball fan, paramedic and father of two is jumped in a parking lot in Los Angeles and left for dead in a coma. All because he was wearing a Giants jersey.
Then, it’s front page news and every jackass sportswriter – most of whom haven’t bought a ticket to a game or EVER sat in an upper deck in an opposing stadium in opposing team gear – all have some half-baked, worthless opinion.
And then everyone cries and bemoans the situation and says it’s time for change.
The only question is: Will it EVER change?
Especially when Adam Jones can encourage it so publicly and I’m considered “the bad guy” for calling him out on his own repeated words and calling him the idiot that he so clearly is for even thinking such a childish and thoughtless thought.