Police out in force for NFC championship game 

Many of the New York Giants fans who braved the miserable weather, terrible traffic and the boos and taunts against them as they entered Candlestick Park for Sunday's NFC championship game shrugged it off and took it in stride.

"It's football, baby!" laughed David Lerner, 42, an investment banker from New York City who brought his 16-year-old son, Eric, to watch the game eventually won by the Giants in overtime 20-17, sending them to the Super Bowl. They were proudly wearing their blue-and-white Giants jerseys.

"I've had no issues whatever," Lerner said. "He's a big boy and can take it," he said, nodding toward his son.

They are, after all, New Yorkers.

"It doesn't faze me," said Sean Trachtenberg. The 35-year-old and his girlfriend ran a gauntlet of good-natured boos and barked requests that they go back home as they made their way toward Candlestick Park. "I'm from Brooklyn and I've seen it all."

San Francisco police, the 49ers and NFL adopted extraordinary security measures for Sunday's showdown after New Orleans Saints fans complained of verbal abuse, threats and intimidation by some 49er faithful in last weekend's game.

Undercover police were dressed in Giants' garb and on the lookout for nasty fans. Giants' ticketholders were handed a card as they entered the 51-year-old bayside park with details on how to contact police if they feel threatened. More security cameras and undercover police officers were in place to identify abusive fans.

San Francisco police Sgt. Michael Andraychak said there were no reports of any serious ugliness against Giants fans amid the sprawling parking lot filled with tailgaters. But any threats, verbal or physical abuse — and they're out.

"There's always going to be a little bit of playing around; this is a sporting event, after all," Andraychak said. "But anybody who is caught crossing that line, being intimidating or using profanity or threatening behavior, they will be ejected from the game."

Peter Hartlaub, a pop culture critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, tweeted from inside the stadium: "My wife was next to police subduing unruly fan and got pepper sprayed. Had to go to first aid. Can someone tell me the score?"

Andraychak confirmed the incident, saying that a fan assaulted two police officers on the upper level of the stadium and one of the officers used pepper spray on the man and took him into custody. He said a female fan who was not involved was inadvertently hit by spray, treated and returned to watch the remainder of the game.

Otherwise, Andraychak said after the game, there were the usual suspects.

"Arrests that I'm aware of were for public intoxication, misdemeanor battery and a few resisting arrest," he said, adding that final arrest figures would not be available until Monday.

Joseph Chan, a security usher for the 49ers, said he hates it when the crowd gets unruly.

"What happened if there was an earthquake? We'd all have to help each other. We all have to respect each other," he said.

That respect was tested when it took some fans two to three hours to get to the game as some 70,000 ticketholders made their way to the stadium. There were reports of abandoned cars and some transit passengers getting out of buses and shuttles on the off-ramps and making their way on foot.

NFL security director Jeff Miller told The Associated Press that if the cameras or undercover police catch abusive behavior by fans, they would be yanked from the stadium.

Several New Orleans Saints fans wrote highly publicized letters to the San Francisco Chronicle after last week's game, complaining of being so badly abused they feared for their safety.

"Every 49ers fan, the team and its owners should be ashamed and embarrassed to wear the red and gold today," Don Moses wrote in the letter published Tuesday. "They won the game but are losers in every other way."

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee instructed the police to do whatever it took to make Giants fans feel safe.

Nick Koulouris, who was tailgating with a group of 49ers fans while watching another football game on a flat-screen TV rigged up to a generator on the back of a pickup truck, said he was ashamed of the "lowlifes" who make visiting fans feel unwelcome.

"We're just normal, everyday working class guys out here having a good time," said Koulouris, a plumber from Mountain View, a city just south of San Francisco. "It's just a sporting event, and you're supposed to just have fun; win, lose or draw."

And that's how Joe Derby, 24, of Staten Island, NY, took the shouting at him as he entered the stadium Sunday.

"It's not harassment — it's love," he said, laughing as Niners fans booed him and his friends loudly.

With darkness closing in by halftime around the San Francisco Bay, the lights held out all night.

The city and the Pacific Gas & Electric Co. spent nearly $1 million in upgrades to the aging park after the stadium lights blacked out and delayed the nationally televised Monday Night Football game between the 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 19.

Mayor Lee called it a "national embarrassment." The city and utility laid more than a mile and a half of new wire to carry three times the electrical load as well as install a new computer system to monitor possible faults in the circuit.

Pin It
Favorite

Speaking of...

More by The Associated Press

Latest in Nation

Monday, Oct 15, 2018

Videos

© 2018 The San Francisco Examiner

Website powered by Foundation