I purchased Standing Room Only tickets with a buddy of mine this off season, with the thought that any chance to see my team live at a reasonable price was worth it. So we ordered two tickets at $320 each. The first four games at home were great. We paid the cash parking with smiles. The Bengals game started with a group of four patrons next to me who spent all the first half yelling at those who passed by, spilling others drinks, yelling profanity at the field (though in upper deck SRO, it wasn't going to be heard by anyone on field). I ignored them for the most part but then as alcohol does to some, one of them started cursing at a fan the row above us. They became rowdy and the usher had to come up and verbally warn them. After realizing their friend was going to be more trouble they left, probably towards other seats they didn't have tickets to. Point being they were warned and got to stay. One even bought another beer before leaving.
Growing up all I ever heard was how powerful it was to be in RFK stadium with a beer in hand as the place shook violently. I've heard of players dreading the experience of dealing with how loud Redskins fans could be. Last Sunday the Vikings came to our turf and I learned first hand that no matter how loud we used to be, it is not going to be tolerated at FedEx Field. A stadium where most of the fans surrounding me are of the opposing team, where cash parking ends any ability to afford anything from the Redskin's gift shops, and where most of all cheering (whether its stomping or banging on the walls) is completely unacceptable.
Second game was great against the Falcons. No issues and just like the first game we were stomping and everyone was pounding the panels to alert the opposing team that we meant business. Everyone in our section had either a water bottle or was tapping their cans on the wall to make noise. All in good fun of course. There were no fights or arguments. Only awesome fans getting loud. Even the usher of this game was smiling at how much enthusiasm we showed. So naturally we were pumped to come up against the Vikings.
For us it takes about 1.5 hours to get to FedEx from Frederick, MD. We leave early and we cash park. When we got in it was perfect weather, everyone was in good spirits and we had ourselves some hotdogs and water. The first three quarters went by and by the fourth it was dark and the lights lit up the place. The Redskins were leading and it was time to shut down their offense. My hand was throbbing from smacking the panel all day and so like many around me in my section and the surrounding sections, we stomped our feet, pounded the walls and used bottles to tap.
From here I'm not sure what happened, but a guard from the right side came out moving fast and was pointing to the guys above us. They responded with, "Us?" as if they were not sure why they were being called out. I stared at the guy, but he was looking beyond us. Then from the left two guards and two officials in yellow jackets came storming up towards me and my buddy. He screamed, "You Two! You're out of here!". We were shocked and asked the same question, "Us?". He started with his story that we had been verbally warned three times not to bang on the panels. We had not been approached by anyone and would have gladly stopped.
He asked for our tickets and spoke them into his walky talkie. Then he proceeded to write a "w" on them. I figured that it was probably a misunderstanding and that we would just explain as such and stop pounding, even though the entire section was as well. He then said we had to go. We protested by asking what happened and that we were not warned at all yet. By this point he had shoved me into the stairway and had grabbed my buddies arm. As we continued to the concourse he told us things such as , "I don't give a s**t," and "You had your f****ing chance."
We were led to the concourse in which I asked him if he could please ask the usher to come over and identify us to make sure it wasn't a mistake and he said, "Last time I brought the usher over, he got a slap in the face." To which I repsonded, that were not going to cause trouble, we simply weren't warned and possibly the usher could clear this up. He then angrily asked for our tickets again and pointed to the "w" on the ticket that he had written and said, "Don't you dare tell me you weren't f***ing warned!". He then radioed again to someone our seat numbers and said, "No they aren't gonna be a problem," then when looking at us, "Your not gonna be a problem are you?". We said no and started towards the ramp. My friend uttered again that this was completely ridiculous and the guy finished with, "I don't give a s**t, have a great evening." He was obviously not serious about the great evening.
We walked to the car as RG3 ran for his Touchdown, unable to celebrate the win and spent the time to the car looking up a number to call at FedEx Field in order to file a complaint. We were told we'd receive a call tomorrow on the issue. That has not happened. I wrote two emails to no response and I have submitted an op-ed into the Washington Post for approval to express my concern.
Now if we were in the wrong for being too loud then I would have gladly stopped after a verbal warning and continued watching the game. Being that we are season ticket holders, It's not my goal to lose tickets for stupid actions. Being that we attended four games with no change in how we cheered, I find their handling of this situation to be disgusting. I love my team, and if I'm fighting, being rowdy, rude, or violent then get me out of the game, but if I'm simply cheering too loud, come up and politely tell me so I can at least be given the chance to stop.
What hurts the most is that when family members hear that I was thrown out they can't even begin to comprehend how. I know right now I'm just a dude typing on the internet to most and this story is only one sided. Maybe there was a fan that texted that I was being too loud, and again with fair warning I could have corrected it. But to have them blatantly write on my ticket and then use that to throw me out as evidence of earlier warnings was completely absurd.
Our next home game is on my actual birthday and right now the thought of driving to that stadium, paying to park, walking up the ramp, and god-forbid cheering is the last thing I want to imagine myself doing. It's as if they killed the enthusiasm I have for my team. I don't even know how to react to it. I know I don't want to deep inside, but I feel like burning my tickets and turning off my TV until a new owner comes in and changes the home field atmosphere. I love the Redskins and always will, but being treated like that in my own stadium is like being punished for being happy.
I've heard that the NFL fan conduct course is being used in many stadiums and to have to pay to sit through 4 hours meant for those who get drunk, start fights, and become nasty seems like something that would actually make my blood boil. For now, I'm just one of the cheaper season ticket holder who has no voice in how this was and will be handled. HTTR, but I'll stay at home until its clear that cheering isn't a punishable offense. I bought tickets in a stadium that tells me to get loud, with a beer-hat wearing vendor who calls us the Bud-Light Party Deck, with a nose tackle who demands noise every play... only to find out that the real lack of home-field advantage is not an issue due to fans like me and those who got loud with us, but rather is because of a stadium that prefers you not be enthusiastic.
Whatever happens... Hail to RG3 & HTTR!