49ers take zero-tolerance approach after Saints' fans complain
Don't yell obscenities, don't flip the bird -- and don't even think about insulting anyone's mother.
The San Francisco 49ers and the NFL have adopted extraordinary security measures for Sunday's NFC Championship Game against the New York Giants after New Orleans Saints fans complained of harassment by unruly 49ers faithful last week.
Undercover police will be dressed in Giants' garb and on the lookout for nasty fans. Giants ticketholders will be handed a card as they enter Candlestick Park with details on how to contact police if they feel threatened. And more security cameras and undercover police officers will be in place to identify abusive fans.
Season ticketholders have also been warned to follow the NFL Fan Code of Conduct: no foul or abusive language or obscene gestures and no verbal or physical abuse of opposing team fans.
The nail-biting 36-32 win over New Orleans last Saturday was the 49ers' first playoff game in nine years.
"I apologize for any rudeness that may have happened," San Francisco 49ers president and CEO Jed York said. "I think you saw 49ers fans who were very excited about hosting a playoff game for the first time in a long time."
Some of those fans ruined the day for a shaken Don Moses and his two teenage daughters. Moses, a longtime Bay Area resident who is from New Orleans, said they were wearing the Saints' colors and prepared for some good-natured ribbing.
Instead, he tells a horror story of fear and humiliation when his daughters asked him why he didn't do anything to stop the hulking 49ers fans who yelled vulgarities and threw footballs at them, screamed in their faces and called their mother a whore.
"Every 49ers fan, the team and its owners should be ashamed and embarrassed to wear the red and gold today," Moses wrote in a letter published Tuesday in the San Francisco Chronicle. "They won the game but are losers in every other way."
NFL security director Jeff Miller told the AP that if the security cameras or undercover police catch such abusive behavior by fans on Sunday, they will be yanked from the stadium.
"We'll be looking early on to identify people trying to do those things in the parking areas and take action to remove them," said Miller, who will be at the game. "We're not going to be warning people inside the stadium. They will be removed."
Tailgating after kickoff already has been banned from the parking lot under security measures introduced after two shootings, a beating and fights broke out during an Aug. 20 preseason game with the across-the-bay-rival Oakland Raiders.
Then there are the lights.
Some of the game will be played under the same stadium lights that blacked out and delayed the nationally televised Monday Night game between the 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 19.
The city and the Pacific Gas & Electric Co. insist there won't be an embarrassing repeat of the two blackouts at the 51-year-old stadium, which had prompted the mayor to call the night a "national embarrassment."
PG&E spokesman Joe Molica is confident the nearly $1 million in upgrades to the park by the electric utility and the city will prevent a repeat.