Last year’s preseason game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders was one of the ugliest in recent memory.
There were at least two shootings, two serious beatings and numerous fights. One source close to Sports Fans Coalition said he had to leave early because he’d had enough of all the fights taken place. Three people ended up being hospitalized. As a result, the rivalry was indefinitely suspended.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, a man “beaten unconscious and the friend shot four times trying to rescue him” are suing the NFL, the 49ers and a security company for negligence in providing a safe atmosphere. The suit specifically says the defendants failed to “proactively create an environment that was free from fighting, taunting or threatening remarks and/or gestures and gang activity.”
The lawsuit also cites warnings over the years from 49ers management to players not to bring their families to Raiders games, according to the Mercury News. In fact, the legendary Joe Montana says Coach Bill Walsh once advised players to tell their families “to sit this one out and watch it on TV.”
It’s long been clear that the NFL and its teams need to do a better job of providing security at NFL games. The quickest way to curtail fan violence would be to remove alcohol from the equation, but owners would never consider doing that, given the money they make from alcohol. But the league and the teams do owe fans more than they’ve provided in the past. Perhaps this lawsuit will provide a sorely needed wake-up call.