A group of New England Patriots fans got a front-row seat for Tyreek Hill’s 75-yard game-tying touchdown in a wild Sunday Night Football shootout against the Kansas City Chiefs. They weren’t too welcoming to the Chiefs wide receiver, to put it lightly. Hill was met by middle fingers and a face full of beer.
Getting a rude reception is not a unique experience for visiting players who approach an opposing crowd, but the Patriots took a step toward keeping fans in check. They turned the beer thrower over to police:
Statement from the New England Patriots: pic.twitter.com/VapBDpzzdg— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 15, 2018
Every NFL team has its own fan code of conduct and throwing beer on players is an easy, boilerplate violation of all of them. Rule No. 1 in the Patriots’ list of prohibited acts by spectators is “Exhibiting behavior that is unruly, disruptive, irresponsible or illegal in nature.”
Throwing beer at another person, let alone a player, checks off all the boxes there.
After the game, Hill said he wasn’t upset or even surprised by the beer splash.
“My coach [Andy Reid] told me, ‘Don’t get emotional. Don’t get mad about it because it comes with the territory,’” Hill said, via Boston.com. “I’m not mad at all.”
But a day later, Hill’s agent Drew Rosenhaus said that they will pursue legal action against the fan:
Tyreek Hill and Drew Rosenhaus want to take action against fan that doused the Chiefs WR with beer Sunday. They are talking to the NFL/NFLPA about options. “That type of behavior is unacceptable,” Rosenhaus said. “Players have to be protected. We want that fan to be prosecuted.”— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 15, 2018
The Foxborough Police Department wasted no time either:
Fan who threw beer at Tyreek Hill has been charged w/ disorderly conduct & throwing object at sporting event. Foxborough PD ID'd him using surveillance video. He's 21 year old male from Massachusetts.— michael j. babcock (@mikejbabcock) October 15, 2018
Maybe the Patriots’ crackdown on the fan and legal action from Hill will make it so that it doesn’t “come with the territory,” because that fan certainly wasn’t the first to throw beer on a player.
A couple years ago, Bengals fans threw trash at Ben Roethlisberger as he was carted off the field and just last year Seahawks defensive line Quinton Jefferson almost climbed into the stands in Jacksonville to fight Jaguars fans who threw trash and drinks at him:
An exciting showdown between the Seahawks and Jaguars ended in ugliness pic.twitter.com/UR0ZioXG0k— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) December 11, 2017
A couple months later, two Jaguars fans were indefinitely banned from attending any future games.
Will the Jaguars or Patriots actually be able to enforce those bans? Probably not. Anyone can buy a ticket and show up to the stadium. There are no posters of banned fans on a wall of shame for stadium workers to check as they scan tickets.
But if turning over unruly fans to police means players aren’t getting faces full of beer as often, that’s a good thing.