What others say: Fan violence in NFL a growing concern

  • Tuesday, October 7, 2014 8:48pm
  • Opinion

Silence has not served the National Football League well.

For years the league downplayed its problem with domestic violence and lightly penalized its offending players. That all erupted in a blaze of scandal and bad publicity when a video camera caught Ray Rice decking his then-fiancee in an elevator.

Now NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is clinging to a job and reputation in steep decline.

Another sort of violence lurks beneath the surface of this league, and last Sunday reared itself in two stadiums — University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale and Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Brawls broke out in the stands between spectators that turned far too dangerous as people tumbled over seats and down cement stairs.

The crowd videos are cringe-worthy. Punches land sharply on faces. People fall several feet onto hard seats and sharp corners as those around them gasp. In Glendale blood spatters the concrete. Fans nurse bleeding wounds. Glendale police arrested two men on assault charges and stadium security expelled a number of other people involved in the two fights that broke out in the upper decks of the Cardinals stadium.

The NFL has long known it has a problem with crowd violence. Last December, at least three people were stabbed outside of the Denver Broncos’ stadium as fans poured out into the parking lot following a loss to the San Diego Chargers.

Former NFL defensive end Akbar Gbajabiamila wrote at NFL.com in 2012 that even players are concerned about the safety of their family members in the stands.

“Fans can be brutal no matter what venue you go to,” he wrote. “When I came into the league in 2003, I was warned by veteran teammates to tell all of my family and friends to wear neutral colors to road games in order to deflect unnecessary attention that might cause them to be harassed.”

Anyone who has frequented NFL games in the past decade can speak to the declining spectator environment — encounters with beer-swilling low-lifes who tease and taunt and finally bully those around them. The most dangerous people at football games are not the huge men playing a violent game, writes CBS Sports columnist Gregg Doyel. “The true danger is us. We are the thugs, and we are everywhere.”

The NFL has been quietly trying to address the problem, he explains, with liaisons to each franchise focused on crowd security as teams coordinate with stadium guards and local law enforcement. Most NFL teams post a phone line for fans to text stadium personnel of any problems or concerns, Doyel reports. And the league is actively gathering information at all stadiums and studying the findings.

The league operates quietly on this front because it doesn’t want to alarm its customers, Doyel says.

— The Arizona Republic,

Sept. 23

More in Opinion

An array of stickers awaits voters on Election Day 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: The case for keeping the parties from controlling our elections

Neither party is about to admit that the primary system they control serves the country poorly

Voters fill out their ballots at the Challenger Learning Center in Kenai, Alaska on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Voter tidbit: Important information about voting in the upcoming elections

Mark your calendar now for these upcoming election dates!

Larry Persily (Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: State’s ‘what if’ lawsuit doesn’t much add up

The state’s latest legal endeavor came July 2 in a dubious lawsuit — with a few errors and omissions for poor measure

The entrance to the Homer Electric Association office is seen here in Kenai, Alaska, on May 7, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion file)
Opinion: Speak up on net metering program

The program allows members to install and use certain types of renewable generation to offset monthly electric usage and sell excess power to HEA

Gov. Mike Dunleavy signs bills for the state’s 2025 fiscal year budget during a private ceremony in Anchorage on Thursday, June 25, 2024. (Official photo from The Office of the Governor)
Alaska’s ‘say yes to everything’ governor is saying ‘no’ to a lot of things

For the governor’s purposes, “everything” can pretty much be defined as all industrial development

Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. board members, staff and advisors meet Oct. 30, 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: The concerns of reasonable Alaskans isn’t ‘noise’

During a legislative hearing on Monday, CEO Deven Mitchell referred to controversy it’s created as “noise.”

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Crime pays a lot better than newspapers

I used to think that publishing a quality paper, full of accurate, informative and entertaining news would produce enough revenue to pay the bills

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo
Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom addresses the crowd during an inaugural celebration for her and Gov. Mike Dunleavy at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Jan. 20, 2023.
Opinion: The many truths Dahlstrom will deny

Real conservatives wouldn’t be trashing the rule of law

Gov. Mike Dunleavy discusses his veto of a wide-ranging education bill during a press conference March 16 at the Alaska State Capitol. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Governor, please pay more attention to Alaskans

Our governor has been a busy guy on big issues.

Priya Helweg is the acting regional director and executive officer for the Region 10 Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Happy Pride Month

This month is dedicated to acknowledging and uplifting the voices and experiences of the LGBTQI+ community

A roll of “I voted” stickers sit at the Alaska Division of Elections office in Juneau in 2022. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Strengthening democracy: Native vote partners to boost voter registration

GOTNV and VPC are partnering to send over 4,000 voter registration applications this month to addresses and P.O. boxes all over Alaska

Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
Former President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower after he was found guilty of all counts in his criminal trial in New York on May 30.
Opinion: Trump’s new fixers

Fixers from Alaska and elsewhere step in after guilty verdict