15 Instances of Athletes Fighting Fans

Nick DimengoFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2014

15 Instances of Athletes Fighting Fans

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    Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    In light of the whole Marcus Smart incident—in which the Oklahoma State forward shoved a Texas Tech fan a few weeks ago—I thought it would only be appropriate to take a look back at some of the other moments where athletes just couldn't control their emotions, and got spectators involved.

    Although it's probably no secret which one falls on top of my list—hint: it involves the man formerly known as Ron Artest—some of the ones in between might refresh your memory on how often these types of fights happen.

Albert Belle

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    ROBERTO BOREA/Associated Press

    As I've mentioned a few million times before, I grew up in Cleveland.

    And while I remember rooting for Albert Belle from kindergarten until he left for the Chicago White Sox in 1997, it's hard to imagine convincing anyone during those days that Belle wasn't a huge jerk.

    With several brush ups during his career, one moment he really bullied someone was in 1991 when he nailed a heckling fan in the chest with a baseball.

    It might not have been a full-fledged riot and the former All-Star got off easy, but it was yet another incident for a guy who just couldn't resist controversy throughout his career.

Shaun Ellis

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    As you can tell by this video, it appears that former NFL defensive tackle Shaun Ellis just couldn't handle the Seattle Seahawks' 12th Man.

    Following a loss to a bad Seahawks team in 2004, Ellis wasn't one to turn down a snowball fight, picking up a giant piece of packed snow and heaving it into the front row onto a Seattle fan.

    Even though Ellis tried to defend his actions by saying that, "It was all in good fun," the league nailed him with a $10,000 fine and the fan even sued the player.

    I guess it's frowned upon to have fun in the snow when in the NFL.

Rob Ray

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    I totally get it—betting and sports go hand-in-hand.

    But a word to the wise—when a buddy bets you to jump onto a bench of a professional sports team, don't expect the players to accept you with open arms.

    Buffalo Sabres right winger Rob Ray wasn't too welcoming, pummeling a guy with punches during a game against the Quebec Nordiques back in 1992.

    As a side note, props to Ray for sporting that Patrick Kane mullet before Kaner could even dream of having one.

Frank Francisco

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    BEN MARGOT/Associated Press

    One trend you'll most likely pick up on throughout this piece is that athletes don't like to be heckled.

    Like most of the other guys on here, former Texas Rangers relief pitcher Frank Francisco fell victim to some inappropriate words launched his way during a game in Oakland in 2004, upsetting Francisco enough to toss a folding chair at the guy providing the gab.

    One major problem, though—his aim was off and he hit a unsuspecting lady nearby.

    The righty was charged with a felony and suspended for 16 games by the league.

Marcus Smart

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    Oklahoma State men's basketball player Marcus Smart may be one of the top players in the country and an expected high draft pick should he declare after this season, but he has to prove he's way smarter than he acted in a game against Texas Tech a few weeks ago.

    Shoving Red Raiders superfan Jeff Orr following some sort of taunt, Smart surprisingly just received a technical—though his head coach Travis Ford did sit him the rest of the game—but later got nailed with a three-game suspension.

    And if you're wondering, his Cowboys teammates failed to win any of those games without him.

Lincoln Kennedy

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    ROBERT GALBRAITH/Associated Press

    Former NFL offensive lineman Lincoln Kennedy stood 6'6" and weighed 335 pounds, so you'd think that he wouldn't be the type of guy anyone would want to get involved with.

    Unfortunately, a few Denver Broncos fans found themselves in that precarious position during a game in 1999 after they threw snowballs at Kennedy and his teammates all game.

    Taking matters into his own hands, the behemoth lineman climbed into the stands and punched out a drunken fan.

    This should be a reminder of why booze and sports don't always mix well.

Reggie Smith

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    Anonymous/Associated Press

    Although Reggie Smith was a seven-time MLB All-Star who belted 314 career home runs, one of his most famous hits came in 1981—on a fan of the San Francisco Giants.

    After being verbally accosted all game, Smith had finally reach his boiling point with fan Michael Dooley as the ballplayer leaped into the stands and fought the 6'4", 218-pound Dooley.

    Of course, after getting in just one punch or so, the surrounding fans let the player have it before both Smith's teammates and security came to his rescue.

Vernon Maxwell

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    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    When a man has the nickname of "Mad Max," I'd be cautious in what I was yelling towards him.

    His moniker proved accurate in 1995 when a Portland Trail Blazer fan was giving former NBA baller Vernon Maxwell the business about a miscarriage Maxwell's wife had—total jerk move by that guy.

    Rather than shrug it off, Maxwell somewhat understandably went after the guy and knocked the fan out, breaking the dude's jaw in the process.

    That should be a message to all heckling fans to keep the trash talk within reason, even if Mad Max did get hit with a 10-game suspension and $20,000 fine from the NBA.

St. Leonard Cougars vs. Hamilton Hurricanes Fans

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    Anytime an entire team—or the majority of one—climbs into the stands to take on some fans, it's always a bad scene.

    And this instance was no different.

    Following some jeers from supporters of the Hamilton Hurricanes of the Ontario Football Conference during a 2010 game, members of the St. Leonard Cougars went in fully protected with helmets and pads to take on the taunting fans.

    Hey, what do you expect from a bunch of 18-22 year old kids who get shouted at?

Tie Domi

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    To all you fans out there who think that getting close to the action is a solid idea, go ahead and see what happens when you get what you asked for—like Philadelphia Flyers fan Chris Falcone did during a game back in 2001.

    Tie Domi was one of the biggest crazy men to ever play in the NHL, so one would think it would be wise to yell at someone else.

    Not in Falcone's case.

    Falcone got squirted with water and fell into the sin bin after the glass gave way, allowing Domi to give the guy several licks before security broke it up.

Ty Cobb

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    Anonymous/Associated Press

    While it's no secret that Hall of Famer Ty Cobb wasn't exactly loved by anyone in the game of baseball—just take a look at some of these quotes about the guy—he was one hell of a ballplayer.

    Still, his rough reputation was warranted by a few incidents that saw him get into hot water.

    One of those moments was in 1912 when Cobb ran into the stands during a game against the New York Highlanders and assaulted a handicapped fan, Claude Lueker, after Lueker was heckling the former outfielder.

    Cobb was ejected, indefinitely suspended and fined $50—at first.

    Thanks to a strike from his teammates—who actually hated him themselves—in which they fielded a team of college and sandlot players in their next game, Cobb's suspension was lifted after just paying the fine.

    Seems like he got off pretty easy with that one.

Eric Cantona

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    One has to admire a guy like former Manchester United great Eric Cantona.

    Not only did he end up being one of the best players to ever suit up for The Reds, but Cantona also appears to have zero regrets for an incident that happened between him and Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons back during a match in 1995.

    With the player saying, "I have a lot of good moments, but the one I prefer is when I kicked the hooligan," it doesn't look like he cared about his suspension and fine one bit.

10-Cent Beer Night

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    PAUL TEPLEY/Associated Press

    Ah yes, my fellow Cleveland fans know what's up.

    After giving a 10-cent beer night for some odd reason back in 1974, Tribe supporters let all that booze go to their heads—and mouths, and subsequently, their actions.

    Following a drunk Cleveland fan running onto the field in the ninth inning and snatching Rangers player Jeff Burroughs' hat and glove, his Texas teammates came to defend him as hundreds of sloshed Indian fans poured onto the field.

    With both teams armed with bats to help fend off any crazy, drunk people, a few players and umpires were injured in the riot and the game was ultimately forfeited by Cleveland.

Boston Bruins vs. New York Rangers Fans

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    While I was personally first introduced to the name Terry O'Reilly in one of my favorite movies ever, Happy Gilmore, it wasn't until a few years later that I found out why he was such a badass.

    This video was the convincer.

    Climbing over the boards and attacking New York Rangers fans, O'Reilly and his Boston Bruin teammates took on an entire section of Madison Square Garden in 1979, with former defenseman Mike Milbury taking the shoe off of spectator John Kaptain and beating him with it.

    The commentators may have thought the players were at a disadvantage because they were in skates, but Milbury and his mates didn't seem to let that affect them.

The Malice at the Palace

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    While it would be easy to blame just one guy—the athlete formerly known as Ron Artest—for being responsible for this whole brawl starting, one can't ignore the fact that things were already out of hand before the forward was lounging on the scorer's table—as evidenced by the guys suspended.

    Sure, Artest's reaction to climb up rows of seats and attack the guy he presumed to have thrown a cup at him wasn't right—it ended up being the wrong dude, anyway—the shove from Detroit Pistons Ben Wallace with little time left was the match that started the fire.

    And once the flame was lit, it got hot—fast.

    Strangely enough, the 10-year anniversary of this incident will be early next NBA season, so hopefully we won't see anything this big ever happen again.

    On a positive note, the fan who did throw the cup and Artest are now friends, so something randomly positive did come out of it.