By Jeff Capellini, CBSNewYork/WFAN.com
NEW YORK (WFAN) — I was going to let this go, but now feel compelled to clear up a few things.
As you probably know by now, a man decided the prudent thing to do on Sunday was to bring a weapon of some kind into MetLife Stadium prior to the Cowboys-Jets game. He then allegedly decided to use that weapon on surrounding fans for reasons that are just coming to light. The stupidity surrounding this series of decisions is mind-boggling considering all we supposedly know about the laws of the United States.
But I sense that there will be people out there — and you know damn well who you are — who will blame Jets head coach Rex Ryan for the entire sordid incident. And if you do that, you’re just as much of an idiot as the guy who allegedly decided to become a vigilante on 9/11.
Last week Ryan playfully, in his own unique way, suggested it would be a bad idea for anyone to wear a Cowboys jersey to the game. If you know anything about the way Ryan speaks or operates he was in no way suggesting that if you did, indeed, wear a Cowboys jersey you should fear for your life. Some tried to spin it that way, of course, but Ryan was almost certainly just trying to rally his troops to turn MetLife into a sea of green — nothing more, nothing less.
Now you may be wondering why the head coach of a hometown NFL team would feel the need to actually have to tell his fans to show up en masse wearing their team’s colors. Sounds a little ridiculous, right? Well, historically, the Jets have run into problems inside their own stadium with many fans of opposing teams showing up. This has always been an annoying issue, more so in Giants Stadium than in the new building, but a problem nonetheless.
Prior to the Jets becoming an elite franchise under Ryan, they simply had a lot of fans who either gave their tickets away, sold them on sites like StubHub or didn’t show up because the team often let them down. They likely got tired or fed up with the inconsistency and losing, so they’d give their tickets to fans not necessarily allied with the Jets. What usually followed was a lot of animosity on the part of the loyal Gang Green fans that actually were showing up and, yes, in some cases there would be incidents in the stands, either because people didn’t like seeing opposing fans in their building or for any number of other reasons — excessive drinking, frustration with the team’s poor play, etc.
Ryan understands this problem better than anyone. As good as the Jets are now, they still sometimes do not have a complete “green-out” in the building. Throw in the fact that the Cowboys’ fan base travels as well if not better than any franchise in the league and Ryan felt it was important to remind the Jets fans that MetLife is their house and they should make damn sure everyone knows it, not with fists, mind you, but with voices and colors.
To think he actually meant anything else is utter insanity. Is it Ryan’s job to take every last ignorant soul’s lack of brain matter into consideration before he opens his mouth? Absolutely not. Sooner or later people need to realize they are responsible for how they behave inside a sports stadium or arena. Finding someone to blame for your own stupidity has been a reoccurring problem in this country, and it seems to get worse on a daily basis.
I say point the finger at yourself for once. Man up and say “I was the idiot.” Rex’s words were, after all, just that, words. At the end of the day, your actions define who you are. What someone says, especially when those words are misinterpreted, are hardly a good enough reason to break the law.
And that’s exactly what this incident was all about — someone allegedly thinking they were above the law.
So now we turn to a video that has gone viral on the Internet. It shows absolute chaos in one of the sections. Police later arrested Leroy McKelvey of Moncks Corner, S.C., charging him with with three counts of aggravated assault and two weapons counts. The 59-year-old, father of Power 105.1 deejay Charlamagne Tha God, was taken to the Bergen County Jail where bail was set at $22,500.
The accused man’s son then decided to tell the Daily News that he felt his father “felt threatened” at the game. My question is did he feel threatened before the game or once he got there? Because it sounds to me like his alleged decision to bring the stun gun to the stadium was premeditated. I mean, how is he going to know he’s going to feel threatened at a football game until he gets to his seat and surveys the landscape?
The son also told the newspaper his father is a Jehovah’s Witness and is against the idea of standing for the national anthem. Well, from where I am standing it seems like that would be something to feel more threatened over than the fact that he wore a Cowboys jersey to an opposing stadium, regardless of the call to arms Ryan made earlier in the media.
Maybe the guy just has a thing for stun guns. There are a lot of people that do. Hey, to each is own, but you better be prepared for the consequences if you do.
This guy, if indeed he’s guilty, obviously wasn’t.
Think about it. Sunday was the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Americans by and large, especially New Yorkers and other residents of the Tri-State Area, take that date on the calendar very seriously. If you don’t stand for the anthem on that day, if indeed McKelvey didn’t, you are asking for a backlash. Now while it is McKelvey’s right to choose to not stand, it is also the right of the fans in his vicinity to object to the fact that he’s not standing. It would be the case on any day, Sept. 11, 2011, notwithstanding.
Admittedly, details of what caused the accused to start zapping people are murky. According to the Daily News, the fracas began because McKelvey and his entourage opted not to stand during the anthem. They also allegedly spoke during “Taps” and “Amazing Grace,” drawing the ire of a nearby Marine.
I also do not know who threw the first punch, or if even one was initially thrown. It shouldn’t matter. What’s important here is we all have a right to ask our fans to show their loyalty by wearing their jersey. We have a right to stand or to sit during the anthem. We have a right to object with words to someone not standing during the anthem.
We do not, however, have a right to carry an illegal weapon into a stadium. And we certainly do not have a right to use said illegal weapon at our discretion, if indeed that’s what McKelvey is proven to have done.
All that said, there will be people out there, some with very large megaphones, who will decide Ryan is to blame for all of this. Maybe they have an ax to grind with the Jets’ coach or maybe they simply don’t like the way he’s conducted his business since taking over two years ago. Perhaps these people aren’t Jets fans and just want to stir the pot, or maybe they are actually deranged enough to believe Rex was really asking NFL fans to arm themselves on 9/11 and to cause mayhem.
Again, my belief is Ryan simply was trying to create an atmosphere that was all about passion for the Jets. But even if I’m wrong and he actually had a more sinister plan in mind, as patently absurd as that notion is, he has a right to say whatever he wants.
When are people going to realize words do not equate to action? You have to choose to be a moron.
Read more columns by Jeff Capellini
Do you think Rex deserves some of the blame for the MetLife Stadium stun gun incident? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.