NFL Doesn’t Plan Action Against Giants After Snowball Incident
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ A day after the snowball-throwing incident that nearly caused the first forfeit in NFL history, the snow was gone at Giants Stadium, the beer taps were dry and a judge stood ready to conduct on-the-spot arraignments.
As far as the NFL and New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority were concerned, there wasn’t going to be another snowball debacle Sunday when the New York Jets played the New Orleans Saints.
Saturday’s embarrassing snowball episode perpetrated by unruly fans at the San Diego Chargers-New York Giants game was enough. It resulted in 14 arrests, 175 ejections and 15 injuries, and nearly caused referee Ron Blum to award a close game to San Diego in the fourth quarter, a decision that would have handed the Chargers’ a playoff berth.
San Diego earned its third playoff berth in four years by winning 27-17, but the potential was there for a gift-wrapped invitation.
NFL spokesman Joe Browne said Sunday that the league planned to review the incident after the Christmas holidays and again at its league meetings in March.
``There will be no discipline against the team,″ he said.
The episode was embarrassing enough for Giants owner Wellington Mara and it put an exclamation point on the team’s worst season since 1983.
Not only was the snowball throwing embarrassing and dangerous, but the Giants again failed to make the big plays in blowing a 17-3 halftime lead.
``I’m disappointed the way we played today and I’m disappointed in the conduct of the people in the stands who were throwing snowballs and ice,″ Mara said. ``I would not have objected if the game officials had decided to forfeit the game because of the behavior of some in the crowd.″
Robert Mulcahy, chief executive of the sports authority, which operates Giants Stadium, said Sunday that most of the people ejected were not season ticket holders. While not identifying those dismissed, Mulcahy said their number included a police chief, a teacher, a lawyer and a stockbroker.
The police chief, whose name and town were not identified, was not a season ticket holder, Mulcahy said.
Mulcahy said it was impossible to remove all the snow from the stadium prior to Saturday’s game. Ten inches fell on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the stadium was cleared except under the seats.
However, that provided plenty of ammunition on Saturday, and many in the crowd of 50,243 _ there were 27,303 no shows _ tossed snowballs at the benches and anyone on the sidelines much of the game. One hit San Diego equipment manager Sid Brooks in the face and knocked him unconscious for 30 seconds _ an incident replayed many times on national television.
Work crews started removing the snow within hours of the end of Saturday’s game and most of it appeared gone before the kickoff of the Jets-Saints game.
No alcohol was served during the game and fans were not permitted to bring alcohol into the stadium Sunday, Mulcahy said. Fans entering the stadium were given fliers informing them they would be ejected and subject to arrest if they threw anything onto the field.
Mulcahy said a judge was in attendance to arraign those arrested. Twenty-five state troopers and 230 ushers and security personnel also were assigned to the game, the amount normally assigned for an expected crowd of 75,000. The Jets-Saints game drew only 28,885.
Unfortunately, Saturday’s ugly incident now will be a part of Giants’ history, another blot on a season that will be marked by a 5-11 record and discord between coach Dan Reeves and management.
``It was awful,″ Giants linebacker Corey Miller said. ``You couldn’t concentrate because they continued to throw snowballs. It was bad. Both end zones and sidelines were getting bombed. I felt like running into the stands and punching someone.″
The incident also might hurt the team in the free agent market, said cornerback Phillippi Sparks, one of 11 Giants who will be unrestricted free agents.
``If the fans can’t respect the players who are on the field, I doubt very seriously you’ll get players to come here,″ he said.
The Giants also have to wonder if Reeves is coming back. He wants to return and finish the final two years on his contract, but he also has to patch up differences with the front office.
Reeves met with players Sunday.
``I told them ... that I intend to be here next year,″ Reeves said. ``I didn’t see one player look all of a sudden disgusted when I said that my intentions are to be here.″
A meeting with management is planned this week.
``I’m not a power-hungry coach,″ Reeves said. ``I’m just looking for the opportunity to win.″