It was reported after the NFC Championship Game that an Atlanta Falcons fan punched a fan of the San Francisco 49ers outside the Georgia Dome, and the 49ers fan responded by stabbing the Falcons fan in the neck. Two days later, Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports wrote a column titled, “Brace for it, New Orleans: Niners fans display pattern of violence.”
Doyel admits this isn’t just a San Francisco problem. However, he points to the way SFPD and the 49ers themselves attempted to prevent violent acts from occurring as proof that 49ers fans are the worst of the worst:
Fan-on-fan violence happens everywhere in the NFL, of course, but it sure seems to happen more with the 49ers than with anyone else. Hell, your own team knows it.
Let’s not forget what happened before the NFC Championship Game last year, 49ers fans, when the team — your team — took out a full-page ad in the San Francisco Chronicle asking fans, begging fans, to behave during the game against the New York Giants.
Local police joined the effort, announcing they would increase their presence at Candlestick Park by 25 percent because of escalating violence at 49ers games.
This is how scared police were for visiting fans: They were at entrance gates, handing out cards to Giants fans with instructions on how to reach police if they felt threatened. Police also attended the game undercover in Giants gear, hoping to lure the most obnoxious 49ers fans out from under their rock. Better to have one of those cretins attack a cop, who can legally defend himself, than a fan who cannot.
Because police knew: Visiting fans get beaten up in Candlestick restrooms. They get shot in the parking lot. Wear the wrong jersey to Candlestick, and you take your life into your hands — and again, this isn’t just me saying that.
This was the 49ers saying it. This was the San Francisco police.
Then Doyel detailed how many arrests there were during the 2012 NFC Championship Game, along with five stories about 49ers fans acting badly (including an incident that occurred near a pizza place in San Jose).
Doyel went on KNBR with Gary Radnich and Larry Krueger this morning. Krueger in particular did a nice job taking the columnist to task for not providing more in the way of evidence to back up his assertion that more 49ers supporters are “violent, dangerous psychopaths” than fanatics who follow other teams.
Krueger: There’s nothing in your article that has any kind of statistical breakdown on the number of arrests at Candlestick compared to other stadiums in the NFL over the last two years, three years, five years, ten years. It seems like you’re pointing to some high profile situations and kind of saying, with some great details, but it just seems like a small sample size and we’re not getting the macro data on arrests in stadiums. To me, this story can’t be written without that data. Did you ever consider that?
Doyel: Well, I hear what you’re saying. Had this been a news story where I’m trying to, you know, be fair and balanced in a news article, you’d have to do something like that. But this is an opinion. The 49ers, their fans are coming, so watch out Ravens fans because you guys might be under attack by some of ’em. But furthermore, you’re right, I didn’t use the macro stats but I did note the police — and you and I talked about this — the police standing at the gate handing out cards to visitors because you won’t be safe here. That doesn’t happen anywhere else. You’re right, I don’t have the stats. But I have that. And I don’t know that I need anything more than that.
There are a couple obvious reasons why Doyel has reached this “opinion” (which could better be described as “cherry-picking anecdotes in an attempt to drive traffic through the magic of fear-mongering”). The 49ers are a noteworthy topic because they reached the Super Bowl (Radnich mentioned the timing of Doyel’s article during the interview), and the aforementioned stabbing story (the victim is reportedly in stable condition, by the way). Except …
Although initial reports said a Falcons fan punched a 49ers fan and the 49ers fan retaliated by stabbing the Falcons fan, police now say the dispute had nothing to do with fan allegiances. Instead, police say it was some sort of dispute about food at a tailgate outside the stadium.
Doyel is correct about the 49ers fan experience getting a bit grittier in recent years. While Baltimore is the setting for The Wire, walking through the Candlestick parking lots before and after the Thursday night game against the Seahawks (the only game I attended this season as a fan) resembled a scene from one of the “Hamsterdam” episodes — just replace heroin with a few thousand gallons of domestic beer. Ruthless wrote about how he’d never watch a game at Candlestick again a few months ago, then decided “screw it” and attended the game against the Packers.
That’s the thing. It’s not optimal, but it isn’t that bad at The Stick. There’s only one more year left of football at a reasonable cost and all the bad things that go with that, anyway. Also, the fans creating all these problems aren’t buying plane tickets to New Orleans for hundreds of dollars, with plans on purchasing knives once they land.
This was just an example of Doyel trolling San Francisco 49ers fans the same way he trolled LeBron James during the 2012 NBA Finals. And we all know how that turned out: