Fan sues over NFL conduct policy, says he has a right to swear

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Last year we passed along word of a legal challenge to the NFL’s conduct policy for fans. Now the fan challenging that policy is coming forward to press his case and say he shouldn’t have been kicked out of a stadium for dropping an F-bomb is filing a lawsuit over it.

Eric Holguin, an off-duty Los Angeles police officer who attended the Cardinals-Chargers game in October of 2010 and wore Cardinals colors at Qualcomm Stadium, said that he was kicked out of the stadium after saying “F— you” to two Chargers fans who challenged him to a fight. Security personnel removed him from the stadium for the obscenity, and now he’s filing a lawsuit.

A fan has a right to say ‘[expletive] you’ in public. It’s a public place,” Holguin’s attorney, Mary Frances Prevost, told 10 News in San Diego.

Holguin’s lawsuit seeks an injunction asking the city of San Diego to stop enforcing rules for fan behavior at Petco Park and Qualcomm stadium, including the NFL’s Fan Code of Conduct, which ban obscene and offensive language.

The San Diego City Attorney’s Office, however, has said that it’s concerned that profane arguments can escalate into violence, and that families will be less likely to go to games if they believe they’re going to be subjected to profanity. The Chargers also issued a statement supporting the NFL Code of Conduct.

“The NFL’s Code of Conduct has helped make fans further aware that their behavior has an impact on others, and ultimately has helped curtail the number of incidents league-wide,” the Chargers’ statement said. “The NFL Code of Conduct has been and will continue to be a strong asset to our efforts.”

That is, it will continue if Holguin’s lawsuit is unsuccessful.

91 responses to “Fan sues over NFL conduct policy, says he has a right to swear

  1. What an idiot. You do not have the right to say whatever you want to in public. Freedom of Speech covers the FEDERAL government restricting your speech, not a venue like a stadium. They can restrict what they want. He cannot instigate a fight by insult either.

    What a moron.

  2. I have news for the NFL…. Ive attended several games throughout the country and none of them have been “family friendly”. Perhaps it has a smidge to do with the lake of alcohol sold per game that the NFL makes a fortune on while turning their collective noses up at the behavior it routinely incites.

  3. Any place you have to pay admission to get into is not a ‘public place’. By paying to get in you agree to whatever set or rules the institution has for it’s guests. Same way it is illegal to yell FIRE in a movie theater. What a waste of our court’s times and our tax payer’s money.

  4. It would be interesting to see how quickly NFL players and coaches would be removed from any stadium in the league if the “code of conduct” fans are required to abide by was equally applied to them.

    I’m not in favor of brawls in the stands, but I am tired of the NFL dictating to fans who spend well in excess of $100 a ticket (and $8 for a beer). If they really want to make the place “family friendly”, stop serving beer, and crack down hard on NFL players who use foul language as well.

  5. This lawsuit is absolutely ridiculous.

    Stadiums are private property. People can be thrown out for a hundred reasons.

    People are clueless about the first amendment. It only prohibits the government from persecuting you for your speech. And even then there are limitations. It does not preclude private security, hired by the private owner of the stadium from throwing you out if act like a jack wagon.

    And I don’t care what his lawyer says. He knows the case is ridiculous and only took it for the publicity and/or the possibility that someone will throw some money at this guy to get him to go away.

  6. I don’t like suing over this, but giving him the boot over it is a bit extreme too. Given the various affronts to decency that are considered protected speech on public and private property, is the dreaded f-word that big a deal?

  7. I assume the suit is frivolous, as it’s physically impossible to get that worked up about a Cardinals game.

  8. The saddest thing about this idiotic suit is that it’s being brought on by a cop. What kind of degenerate, retarded cop thinks it’s ok to yell obscenities in public?

  9. Virginia Beach, Virginia has banned profanity in public for years now for the same reasons given by the San Diego City Attorney’s Office. There are signs on the boardwalk stating this and the laws are enforced.

  10. What happened to the Charger’s fans that were provoking him? Im sure they weren’t totally innocent, did they get kicked out too? Or is it only profane if your rooting for the visitor?

  11. This story always seemed like b.s. to me. I wish I could see some video. I see one of two possibilities:
    1) the guy who dropped the F-Bomb was being really obnoxious and security had heard enough
    2) the guy dropped the F-Bomb after being harassed and security escorted him out because he was the Cardinals fan in the situation.

    I suspect it is #1, but since people really do suck #2 is still possible.

    With all of that said, it’s a private venue. The rules of the venue apply. I can’t go into a movie theater and scream for the entire movie without consequences.

    He has a right to drop the F-Bomb. No one took it away. His individual rights do not guarantee there will be no consequence.

  12. Let me see if I got this right. The NFL throws out a guy because he uses profanity, which everyone and their mom has heard before, yet the two dbags that wanted to start a fight were allowed to stay? Anyone else see something wrong with that? Profanity or violence. I know who I’d throw out.

  13. If there is a NFL Code of Conduct for fans at a game, they should come up with a Code of Conduct for the players, coaches, etc., for the words THEY say that are broadcast on free, public television. Should they, too, be taken out of the stadium…afterall, there are impressionable kids watching, too.

  14. Did the also remove the Chargers fans who were trying to start a fight ?

    Or were they only worried about a curse word as opposed to physical violence ?

  15. The NFL doesn’t really enforce their policy anyway, although it’s time they should. The first time is a warning no matter what happens.

  16. Don’t let the NFL become like English football. In the eighties in the UK you couldn’t go to a game without wearing body armour. Suing the NFL because you want to swear……. I could think of better ways to spend my money.

  17. What a joke! Anyone who has ever been to a pro football game knows DAMN well that cussing goes with the territory. I mean I’ve heard almost the entire crowd (little kids included) chant bull$hit at a bad call from the referrers in person, and on T.V.
    Who enforces the no cussing rule, ushers and/or security guards? They’re totally qualified to attempt to discern a cuss word coming from one person’s mouth in a crowd of 70,000 people. Also I’m willing to bet the reason the guy got kicked out is because he had the wrong team’s jersey on. I doubt he would have been the one kicked out if they were in Phoenix. Maybe they would have kicked out the guys who were attempting to beat him up. I’m also willing to bet SD fans were calling him choice names while the security guards were kicking him out. I wonder how many of them were kicked out of the game. This is yet another example of the NFL trying to act like something it’s not.

  18. @bigtganks – yeah, I’m sure they are so embarrassed about one of their own saying a curse word. Because cops NEVER cure on the job. What a tool….

  19. I wonder what this bonehead would do if Isaid F-you to him if he were on patrol…..I cant imagine it would go tooooo well for lil old me…..The guy is a cop, I dont care if hes off duty or not, hows about acting like a well mannered person in public mr. officer sir, you certainly expect the citizens to do the same when your on your beat……. Its a real hard time taking my young kids to a game because soooo many people act so out of line, and GOD forbid you happen to be supporting the visiting team, then forget about it, in tough stadiums your likely to get sucker punched right in front of your kids even if ya keep your mouth shut…Put a beer in a guys hand and suddenly hes rocky Balboa combined with the mouth Of George Carlin……..Im glad the meathead got thown out, hopefully he got reprimanded by his superiors!!!!!

  20. Responding to the constitutional question: 1) Most football stadiums receive public money. Because of this, any rules are rules supported by the government. 2) The NFL is an entity that is in violation of the Magnasson-Moss Act for anti-trust. The government has granted the NFL an exception to this violation. By granting this exception, the government is supporting any rules by the NFL or their teams. 3) The constitution prohibits the government from infringing on a persons freedom of speech. Though profane language is questionable, most constitutional challenges to enforcement of laws/rules because of cursing has been held unconstitutional (A recent case from PA overruled a summary offense for disorderly conduct for profanity at a police officer).

  21. I was thrown out of the Colts /Texans game this year for wearing a” suck for luck” t-shirt.

    True story it made the local news. The security guard said it violated the NFL conduct policy.

    The Colts released a statement saying that I should have never been asked to leave. They refunded my money and are giving me tickets for next year.

  22. Two things –

    If you click on the link to the story, you’ll see that it says “security eventually ejected all three men”, which I assume means that the two Chargers fans who tried to start a fight with him were kicked out.

    The other thing is it’s hard to believe that he was ejected for saying F— you 1 time. I was at the Packer game at Quallcom this year and probably heard that word numerous times, but don’t recall seeing anyone ejected. Common courtesy dictates that you don’t need to use that kind of language when you’re out in public, but “fan” is short for fanatic and some people are very passionate about their team. Add a little beer and it’s bound to slip out, along with other words that some may find offensive. Most people are cool enough that you can just tell them to watch their language and, especially if there’s kids in the area, they’ll respect that. I’m guessing this guy did more than just casually drop the F bomb one time under his breath.

  23. Quallcom stadium is public, not private, property. As are most NFL stadiums. If this rule was enforced on the players as well as the fans, Foulmouthed Tom Brady would never play a game. You can hear him in the upper decks.

  24. After years of mingling with Raiders fans, Charger fans have become worse. They seem to think that wearing the opposing team colors is an invitation to be derided from the moment you enter the front gate. I’ve been to sporting events all over the country and never been treated worse than I have at the Q. I love the city of San Diego, but Chartered fans, when they actually show.up, are the worst in sports. Kicking this guy out for dropping an F bomb in that environment is completely ridiculous.

  25. Frivolous lawsuit. As far as the off-duty cop being provoked into a fight, that’s what he says. Stadium Securiry undoubtedly has a better take on what transpired and they only excorted out the cop. He’s probably an aggressive hothead and was upset because he didn’t have the opportunity to plant a piece or some drugs on the two hecklers to have them thrown out and arrested.

  26. A ton of taxpayer money goes into funding many if not most of these stadiums. So those claiming private venues should also take that into considertaion. That said, this guy sounds like an ass. Not sure what I feel about this.

  27. I’m sure the judge who’s desk this lands on will be quoted as saying, “Are you f%$#@ng kidding me?”

  28. I don’t believe any of the stadiums are public since you need to pay an admission to enter such premises.

    When you purchase said admission I believe there are contingencies on the back of the ticket that you must oblige by.

    If you challenge this and win it is setting the precedent that the stadium security can’t prevent you from bringing outside food, cameras, etc.

    But seriously, it does seem overboard to throw one out for an F bomb. Give him a warning first at least.

  29. @bobbcronin

    American troops can now arrest American citizens on American soil and detain them indefinitley without charges, this addition to the latest war funding bill, which is now law, was insisted on by the White House. What Constitution?

  30. If it is such a big issue with fans using profanity at football games why are the players allowed to? I can’t even count the times I have heard it on tv coming out of a players mouth on a nationally televised game. Im not saying it’s right or wrong to use profanity but if you are going to enforce it on fans paying hundreds of dollars to be there, they better enforce it on the millionaires they are paying to watch.

  31. Is it a private venue? Was ZERO public funds used in the building of the stadium?

    According to the Wikipedia article, its owned and operated by the City of San Diego. I don’t now that that makes it a public or private property, but if its owned by the city, and you pay taxes, its a public area, is it not?

  32. PC 415 SEC 3, google it. I was almost arrested 2 days ago, because a lady crashed into me while i was at a stop sign, and she was on her cell, i had my kids in the car, and she started yelling at me, i cursed her out a good one. Police arrived chewed me out wnd threatened to arrest me for using foul langauge that could provoke a violent reaction. I mentioned freedom of speech, the told me to google Pc 415. And shut the F up. I hate pigs.

  33. dohpey28 says: Feb 3, 2012 3:45 PM

    Any place you have to pay admission to get into is not a ‘public place’. By paying to get in you agree to whatever set or rules the institution has for it’s guests. Same way it is illegal to yell FIRE in a movie theater. What a waste of our court’s times and our tax payer’s money.

    ————————————

    Um….that is ABSOLUTELY not why it is illegal to yell “fire” in a movie theater.

    It has nothing to do with paying for entry. That law applies in ANY crowded place. The “movie theater” is just used as an example.

    Sheesh.

  34. purplengold says: Feb 3, 2012 4:42 PM

    @bobbcronin

    American troops can now arrest American citizens on American soil and detain them indefinitley without charges, this addition to the latest war funding bill, which is now law, was insisted on by the White House. What Constitution?

    ————————————-

    It was proposed by Republicans in a budget bill.

    The White House didn’t insist on it. They had no choice but to sign it or face a government shutdown.

  35. redbullenergydrink says: Feb 3, 2012 4:04 PM

    “Simple solution: Get the NFL Sunday Ticket.”
    ——

    Seeing that ridiculous bill will cause you to drop an F-bomb or two…

  36. I’m too lazy to look up if the Chargers stadium is owned by the public or a public entity like Lambeau and Soldier fields or if it’s owned by a private entity. If it’s private, the private entity can decide on its policies. If it’s public, the first amendment does not protect obscenity. No matter what, the guy has no case.

  37. 10 to 1 this idiot is the kind of cop that would take great joy in busting some kids chops for dropping the f bomb in public. This guy is a fine example of wasted tax dollars, and why we pay such high taxes. Not to mention its scary that someone so idiotic is an officer of the law.

  38. What kind of dictatorship is goddel running? I never knew there was a NFL fan code of conduct. Where and when would I find these rules? Who really cares if the guy cussed, if you want to take your kids to a game and not let them see/hear that kind of stuff, there are family sections at stadiums

  39. @bobcronin:

    Your first two points are complete and utter nonsense.

    Neither of those things change in any way whatsoever how the first amendment would or would not apply to the private owner of the stadium.

  40. Wow! I never thought I would see so many against freedom of speech. Whether you like it or not a stadium is a public place by any real legal definition. This guy will probably win. That said I wish the charger fans would’ve kicked the crap out of that off duty cop!

  41. So its ok to challenge somebody to fight, but meaningless words are not ok? The NFL clearly has its head up its butt. Dont they remember what happened in preseason in San Fran?

  42. I used to go to Charger games with my son all the time until the last couple of years. Even the so called “family section” where they dont serve alcohol has gotten really bad. I love to see security kick the idiots out of the park. They drink all day in the 90 degree heat in the parking lot and keep going when they get inside. Its just safer to watch the game at home. thats if there’s no black out.

  43. siaaa says: Feb 3, 2012 6:47 PM

    I used to go to Charger games with my son all the time until the last couple of years. Even the so called “family section” where they dont serve alcohol has gotten really bad. I love to see security kick the idiots out of the park. They drink all day in the 90 degree heat in the parking lot and keep going when they get inside. Its just safer to watch the game at home. thats if there’s no black out.

    —————————————-

    So your home is more dangerous than the stadium if the game is blacked out? Why is that?

  44. 1920gsh says:
    Feb 3, 2012 4:30 PM
    “After years of mingling with Raiders fans, Charger fans have become worse. They seem to think that wearing the opposing team colors is an invitation to be derided from the moment you enter the front gate. I’ve been to sporting events all over the country and never been treated worse than I have at the Q….”
    _______________________________

    Really? I’m not going to discount another fan’s experience – it is what it is – but I have flown with my son twice from Virginia to San Diego to enjoy the weather and watch the Steelers. Both times Chargers fans invited us to tailgate with them and on neither occasion did I meet unruly Chargers fans. I still consider the Q the best place for visiting fans.

  45. If NFL is to discipline a fan for using the F word, then all the players won’t be in the field for a minute. We all know they can’t complete a sentence with out that F word.

  46. scrapingthefloor-I was actually watching that exact part of the movie (I watch it every day) when I read your post. Thanks. That made my day.

  47. What’s really disturbing is that this guy is a police officer. If he has a hair trigger (no pun intended) temper in his off time, what’s he like when he’s on duty with a side arm and a night stick?

  48. How did the F you work in the Dodger Stadium Parking lot for Bryan Stowe. If you don’t like there rules don’t go. It is as simple as that.

  49. I’m 55 yrs old, have been a Dolphin fan in jets territory most of my life. Have been to Shea, the Meadowlands as well as NE, Balt. when Colts were there, and twice to Philly. I ALWAYS where Dolphin colors and have NEVER had a problem because I will clap when the Finz score but I will not talk to or bother the home fans…You have to know how to be a “visiting” fan….very easy!!

  50. This just reinforces my reasoning for not taking my son to a NFL game.

    It’s a shame, but, true and I am sure I am not alone on this.

  51. Qualcomm is a public stadium, and the city can’t LEGALLY endive the NFL “code.” But I support your right to be felony ignorant.

  52. He has my support in this case! Anyone should be able to tell to idiots to F off if needed. They threw out the wrong guy! Hope the guy gets free Tix

  53. I want to round up y’all idiots that failed civics in HS and send y’all off to Afghanistan on a slow camel. The guy isn’t suing for his “right” to curse. He’s suing because a court already found him not guilty, and he has the right to sue for the assault and battery that occurred enforcing an unconstitutional code. Sheesh….are ALL of you THAT stupid?

  54. The NFL conduct policy is a complete joke! I’ve was kicked out of a Chargers game in 2010 for being “too loud” while the Chargers were on defense. I wasn’t drinking or drunk and I wasnt cussing or saying anything even remotely inappropriate. I was just making noise for my D (yelling “DEFENSE!!”) in my own seat , like every good fan should do.

    The scoreboard even had huge letters flashing that read, “MAKE SOME NOISE!!!”

    It still baffles me that I actually got thrown out for cheering for the home team! I’m pretty sure some super lame fans reported me to security because I was pretty much the only person in the entire section who was acting like an actual fan at a game.

    You really have no business attending an NFL game if you can’t handle fans cheering for their team, regardless of where you are sitting.

    I could not believe it when they actually took my ticket and escorted me off the property.

    I love San Diego and always will. But SD really does have THE worst fans in the history of all sports. Not in a million years would this have ever happened in any other football town.

  55. I work as an usher for an NFL team….I’ve done that since 1978…..I have seen it all……but the continuing lack of respect for others is a terrible sign of the times….some don’t have a filter and will say anything to anybody….whatever happened to manners?… I get so sick of the comment “I’ve paid $100 for my ticket” so if you pay that for any other event do you think they would put up with vulgarity….in many forms…..swearing….fighting….a football stadium is owned by someone, they have rules just like any venue and if you can’t follow them don’t come and make others around you regret that they are there.

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