Friday, November 29, 2013

Surviving Ravens-Steelers: The NFL Needs to Clean up the Fans

M&T Bank Stadium
November 28, 2013
It was cold. Let me start there. I was prepared for the cold and for the most part, except at the very beginning of the evening, I adapted to the sub-freezing temperatures and enjoyed myself.

The game was good--I have to like the outcome because the Ravens held on, literally, by stopping a two point conversion to secure victory on their home turf. 

Me and Jeremy before the Game
I was lucky enough to attend my first Ravens-Steelers NFL football game in person with Jeremy--a rabid, but reserved, Steelers fan. He had been there before and knew how the evening would unfold. I wore my venerable Todd Heap, number 86, Ravens jersey and Jeremy wore his usual Ben Roethlisberger, number 7, Steelers jersey. 

We had an awesome time tailgating before the game and met up with many other great people who were looking forward to the game. 

But, once we entered the stadium,  things changed. I feel compelled to condemn a significant, but small, percentage of fans who feel that they must abuse those wearing gear from the visiting team. It bothered me a lot. The slurs I heard directed at Jeremy and other Steelers fans were uncalled for--whether children were present (which they were) or not. 

I admit that the slurs and the nasty behavior of a few fans put a damper on my enthusiasm for the game. In one sequence of uncalled for nastiness near the end of the game while the outcome was still in the balance, a man in front of us grabbed Jeremy's Terrible Towel, uttered words about his parentage and how by waving his towel he was disrespecting his wife, threatened Jeremy when he returns next year to the Ravens-Steelers game, and threw the towel towards the edge of the stadium where another fan helped it to fall down from the upper level into the stadium below. 

Jeremy displayed an awesome sense of composure and we managed to get out of the situation without being surrounded by police and thousands of other drunken fans. 

I know how I feel when Yankees or Red Sox fans come into Camden Yards--but I never will abuse them nor do I tolerate those who do. They bought a ticket and they have a right to enjoy the game. I just hope the home team wins and they go home losers. Nuff said.

The NFL needs to get control of the unacceptable behavior. In baseball, there are ushers everywhere who help manage the rowdiness. That may be the answer. I did not see an usher anywhere all evening. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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