NFL: The Facts Behind 8-Year-Old Jets Fan Being Tackled at Browns Stadium

Keet BaileyCorrespondent IINovember 19, 2010

CLEVELAND - SEPTEMBER 19:  Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL, shakes hands with fans before the start of the Kansas City Chiefs versus Clevelnd Browns game at Cleveland Browns Stadium on September 19, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

The Browns and the Jets played quite the entertaining game on Sunday, November 14.

With 17 seconds left in overtime, Mark Sanchez hooked up with Santonio Holmes to score the game-winning touchdown in a defensive battle.

But it is the events after the game that have the media down on the Cleveland Browns organization, the city of Cleveland itself and most importantly the Cleveland Browns fans.

As a father and son whom are New York Jets fans walked out into the Muni Lot (Cleveland’s own tailgating spot) and out to their vehicle, the boy was allegedly “tackled” by a drunk Browns fan.

The boy's mother, identified as Danielle, had this to say about the incident: “As he was walking, holding my son’s hand, a guy from behind tackled him. A drunken Browns fan tackled him and pulled him out of his dad’s hand. He was on the ground crying,”

The young boy got up and suffered a scraped and bruised ankle, as his father took his hand, and the family quickly left for their vehicle rather than calling the police and filing a police report, potentially pressing charges against the drunken man.

The Browns have always been known for their rowdy fans, although most teams have them, but the Browns stick out the most. Most notably, the fans of the Dawg Pound are credited with Bottlegate, which was an incident that occurred in 2001 that involved the fans throwing plastic bottles at Jaguars players and referees for a call with which they did not agree.

Rowdy fans are expected at games, but for the most part, NFL fans usually are courteous enough not to get into physical violence with other teams' fans.

But according to Danielle, this was the exception. Danielle was confident heading into the game because "Clevelanders are such great people. I knew that they would never hurt an eight-year-old kid, never.”

But apparently, she was wrong.

However, Danielle was not even at the game, and the father made no comments on the matter to the media. So how does she even know? What facts does she have? Who’s to say that the kid didn’t trip on a curb and the dad, to prevent heat from his wife, made a little white lie and put it on the fans, or something else?

There are a few different eyewitness accounts that have come about since the incident happened. Chuck Kulchar says he witnessed the account and shares the story via email here:

"We were walking back to our rig after the game and I must have been about six paces behind this group. By the time I got up to the group, the kid was upright and the dad was yelling at someone who was on the ground. The dad said 'I really hope you didn't mean to do that. I can't believe you'd mean to do that.' Yelling, pretty upset, but not quite livid.  The Cleveland fan who 'tackled' the kid was on the ground, looked like he was in pretty obvious pain, like he'd bashed his head on the pavement. 

"It happened where the sidewalk from the stadium goes past the [North Point] parking garage into the Muni Lot closest to the stadium. Where pretty much all the walking traffic goes back into the lot. 

"[It happened] right after the game. We were in the upper Dawg Pound so it took us some time to get out, but the foot traffic was still very heavy. ... There wasn't really any sort of crowd around them, like you'd believe there would be if anyone actually tried to tackle a 8 year old kid. Best guess it looked like the guy was drunk and tripped on the trash or curb. 

"No one was laughing, a couple people seemed concerned like 'my friend is busted up.'

"With so many people around, they would have been all over him no matter what colors either group was wearing, and no one was really reacting in a negative way except for the dad."

Another eyewitness account on an online message board said this:

"This happened right beside me walking in the muni lot. The boy was holding his dad's hand and this drunk guy ([albeit really] drunk) lost his balance and fell into the boy and right on his face. In fact [the alleged attacker] had his hands stuck in his pockets so he was unable to break his fall. Once he fell he couldn't get up and wasn't even coherent.

"The dad was yelling 'I hope you didn't [d]o this on purpose.' The drunk guy got to one knee and was holding his head [without] even knowing what happened. I'm not saying he wasn't a drunken idiot, and I didn't hear what was being said before that."

So, what we have is two eyewitness accounts from two (confirmed) sources, compared to the statement made by a person who wasn’t even in attendance for the game.

The woman’s story also doesn’t match up. At one point, she said that there was no heckling whatsoever. But then, the story changed in that Cleveland fans were throwing food at the boy and called him names. The inconsistency is frustrating.

Both the New York Jets organization AND the Browns organization offered services and tickets, including press box seats, among other things, including fan memorabilia (LaDainian Tomlinson is sending a signed jersey to the young boy). However, the mom declined all of the favors, insisting that the topic be dropped.

If she feels so strongly that her son was tackled, why would she decline free gifts from both parties and encourage the incident be dropped like it was nothing? After all, she was the one who brought it up to the media and felt the need to garner attention on Facebook as well as ESPN and ABC News.

What’s most frustrating about the incident is the ignorance of ESPN writer Rob Parker.

Parker tells Cleveland to “Relax. You have to get over it. You have to pull back.” He goes on to discuss that this is just more aftermath from LeBron James leaving and implies that this is Cleveland taking out it’s frustration with LeBron on an eight-year-old kid.

He goes on to say “You hate to paint an entire city with a broad brush. But in this case, you just have to. This might be the meanest, dirtiest thing to happen in sports.”

Parker wrote this article not looking at any evidence whatsoever and making an ignorant guess as to what really happened. He mentions that it’s “sick, twisted” what happened. I agree, if the kid was truly tackled, but the story doesn’t add up to be that way.

Nobody really knows who’s wrong and who’s right. The kid could have tripped on a curb on the way to the car for all we know. But I would tend to think that if a man would full-on tackle a child, men and women who saw it would be all over the guy and would have encouraged the father to press charges and have the man arrested for assault.

That is, of course, unless you think there were no Jets and Browns fans there that were sober or had any sort of moral integrity whatsoever. Not to mention, as men, we all could say that if our children were purposely hurt by another person, there would be hell to pay. The father only questioned the person who did it and refused to take action, choosing to go home.

I’d like to think that if that really happened, there would have been consequences, and there would have been quite a few more eyewitnesses testifying in favor of Danielle Brennan.

Unfortunately for Danielle, her story has a lot of flaws and inconsistencies. I feel bad for the kid, as he is the center of attention for a bad situation, and I do wish the family well. But this could just be a person wanting to claim his or her 15 minutes of fame.

While the incident is unfortunate regardless, the drunken man should have been more responsible in the first place. But to color an entire city classless and point out that only Cleveland fans are as terrible as they come is just plain ignorant. Rob Parker has said a lot of stupid things in his day, and his latest article is not helping his case.

You be the judge.

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