After fan violence marred a preseason game between the Raiders and 49ers, the NFL insisted that it was taking stadium security seriously. But in the stadium that should have had the strongest security presence of any on Sunday — the New York Jets’ home game on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 — an ugly fight broke out in the stands, with one fan using a taser.
A 59-year-old man named Leroy McKelvey, who was wearing a Cowboys jersey at the Jets game, was charged with three counts of aggravated assault and two weapons counts for using the taser, which is illegal in New Jersey.
Deadspin has video of the incident, and a couple fans can be heard asking a very good question: “How did he get in there with that thing? On 9/11? How the f–k did that happen?”
MetLife Stadium CEO Mark Lamping said fans were patted down and had their bags checked as they entered the stadium, as usual.
“Procedures for pat downs established by the NFL and used at every game were in effect at all entry gates,” Lamping said.
But pat downs and bag checks apparently aren’t effective enough to catch a fan bringing an illegal weapon into the stadium.
Jets coach Rex Ryan had an unfortunate choice of words in the days leading up to the game, warning fans that “it’s probably not recommended” they wear Cowboys gear to the stadium. Ryan later said he didn’t intend to suggest that Jets fans should beat up Cowboys fans in the stands. This fight involved Cowboys fans and Jets fans, but it apparently was motivated by a disagreement that broke out during the national anthem.
“A Marine at the end of the row noticed that McKelvey and three others in his party would not stand or take their hats off for the national anthem,” a law enforcement officer told the Cliffview Pilot. “So the Marine tells McKelvey he better not have to get out of the row ’cause he won’t let him out.”
And then at halftime, when McKelvey did try to get out of the row, that’s when the fight broke out.
Whatever the circumstances of this fight, fan violence in NFL stadiums is clearly a serious problem. The league says it’s doing everything it can to keep fans safe in stadiums. The league needs to do more.