As the 2019 NFL Season begins to roar, fans are finally able to experience the annual swing of emotions that comes with watching their every week. Naturally, some will feel excitement and others disappointment. We pour our hearts and souls into these teams, and it’s ok to love that group of 53 men you’ve never met in your life, but it’s also important to remember not to get too aggressive, especially while at the stadium.
During the Week 1 clash between the Tennessee Titans and Cleveland Browns in Cleveland, one fan took his love of the Browns a bit too far. Week 1 wasn’t very kind to the NFL’s offseason darling as they were trailing by a score of 36-13 when Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler returned a Baker Mayfield interception 38 yards for a touchdown, extending the score to 43-13. It was after the score where the misconduct occurred. Butler took his momentum into the Cleveland stands to celebrate with what seemed like the lone Titans fan in the stadium, and behind him followed fellow TItans corner Logan Ryan. In the fray and frustration, a Browns fan sitting in the proximity of the touchdown celebration proceeded to throw his beer into Ryan’s face. Naturally, this upset Ryan, and many others across social media, but who was actually wrong here? Common logic would say the fan, and that’s probably the truth, but the NFL rules place blame on Ryan as well.
Beginning with Ryan, his fault was simply jumping into the Cleveland stands. Many Browns fans, as well as former Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas, have claimed that Jumping into an opposing team’s fans is in violation of NFL rules. It’s been fairly well known that the NFL has previously been harsh in terms of ruling on “excessive celebration,” and in 2017, the League appeared to become more lenient with the celebration penalties. Still, the NFL continued to permit acts that include players leaving the ground to celebrate. This excludes only Green Bay’s signature Lambeau Leap, and is likely the rule Cleveland fans have hounded on, though a rule explicitly permitting the jumping into an opponent’s stands has not been found. Blog favorite Antonio Brown did the same thing this past Sunday in Miami.
Violation of league rules to jump into the stands as the visiting team: you should expect beer dumped on you every time (nobody would waste #73Kolsch by @GLBC_Cleveland, so expect piss water beer at that)Joe Thomas, @joethomas73 -Twitter
Sure, Logan Ryan may have violated NFL rules when he jumped into the stands, but he wasn’t really hurting anything other than the feelings of Cleveland fans by doing so. The fan, however appears to be more at fault, by both practical and legal means. To begin, its possible that this fan, who has yet to be identified correctly, may be charged with assault of Ryan. Under common law, assault is defined as an intentional act by one person that creates an apprehension in another of an imminent harmful or offensive contact. By definition, this fan could be seen to have assaulted Ryan by throwing beer in his face. It becomes more clear outside of a football context. If Ryan were not a football player and the fan threw beer in his face at, say a bar, it’s obvious that there would be some sort of repercussion for the fan. Why does it become different when one is a performer and one is a spectator? It shouldn’t, and that’s Ryan’s point.
They can pour beer on us because we’re just athletes right? We’re just entertainment & since they purchased a ticket they can act how they want?Logan Ryan @RealLoganRyan -Twitter
Additionally, as sports fans cat up, they ultimately subject themselves to banishment from games. We’ve seen it countless times over the years, mainly for throwing things onto the field or at players. The action of banning fans works essentially as a deterrent to fans, encouraging them to be on their best behavior. Teams will ban fan names from ticket databases, but such a ban is difficult to administer. Regardless, its perfectly legal for any company to ban a customer at its own discretion, especially if they are acting outlandishly and in an inappropriate manner. The Browns admitted themselves the fan was acting inappropriately in their response to Ryan’s complaints.
Moral of the story: learn from your fellow fans, understand that players are people too, and you can face repercussions for your actions regardless of whether you bought a ticket. So, try to be on your best behavior, even if the player violated a rule and your team is down 30 at home.