SECURITY, POLICE CRASH MARDI GRAS

There were no exposed breasts, cascades of flying spit or plastic bottles. Hundreds of Jets fans, some holding to tradition, others out of curiosity, did fill the pedestrian ramp at Gate D during halftime of the horribly dull Jets-Browns game Dec. 9, but "Mardi Gras" didn't happen this time.

Thanks to substantially increased security by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority and New Jersey State Police, some Jets fans' ugly tradition exposed in a Nov. 20 New York Times article was broken up. The cheers and jeers of beer burping fans to encourage women to expose their chests went unanswered.

"A few people were escorted away from Gate D, including a couple of females," said State Police spokesman Sergeant Stephen Jones. "Several males were escorted away and then some intoxicated men were ejected for their behavior [at Gate D]."

Even though the game was sparsely attended, NJSEA security and State Troopers had plenty to keep them busy throughout Giants Stadium, not just at the Gate D pedestrian ramp. Sergeant Jones said 37 fans were ejected and 8 were arrested for various incidents, mostly trespassing or disorderly conduct. It was a typical Sunday at Giants Stadium; some people simply can't behave soberly or civilly and have to be sent home.

Jones denied the new security initiative was a response to the New York Times story.

"It was in response to the problem we had recognized, a problem that had been building. We were already making adjustments to that growing problem," he said.

Whatever the case, all responsible parties got it right, except for the fans who still showed up for a peep show that never happened. Officials insist they will continue to aggressively police rowdy, drunken behavior.

"We monitored the situation and will continue to remove any instigators from the area, male and female," said the NJSEA's new president and CEO Dennis Robinson. "For the next game we are considering additional security measures."

Robinson said security personnel may close off the entire Gate D pedestrian spiral at halftime during the Jets final home game of the season, Dec. 30 versus Kansas City. Oh, no! What will some Jets fans do then? Stay in their seats?

In our Nov. 23 column on Gate D "Mardi Gras," we chastised everyone, from the New Jets organization right down to the last drunk fan who thinks buying a ticket gives him the right to do whatever he or she pleases. The appropriate authorities are now doing their part. The rest is up to people who fill the seats, an overwhelming majority of whom, officials insist, behave properly.

"Any time you get 80,000 people together you are going to have some problems with certain types of behavior. On the other hand, our goal is to try to reduce that minority even further by implementing appropriate polices and actions to curb that kind of behavior," said Robinson.

Concerns over anti-social, boorish behavior extend beyond the recent Gate D shenanigans to the entire sports watching public, according to George Zoffinger, who held Robinson's post at the NJSEA for six years before retiring Dec. 7.

"It's not a problem only at the Meadowlands. I mean, come on. If you take a look at the recent advertisements on the college games, every one of the conferences is doing ads asking people to behave themselves," Zoffinger said. "It's a nationwide issue and it relates to a combination of things. Number one, people feel when they pay the price for a ticket they can do whatever they want."

The outspoken Zoffinger favors banning or severely curtailing alcohol sales at Giants Stadium for both Jets and the Giants games, adding that there've been more arrests at Giants games this season. However, a ban on beer sales, which Zoffinger said was discussed at a meeting of Jets, Giants and NJSEA officials after the New York Times story, isn't going to happen.

There are ‘huge amounts of money" involved, Zoffinger said. "Just look at who advertises, whose signs are in the stadiums, who advertises on TV; the beer companies."

"I think the real problem comes down to the drinking. I think serious consideration has to be given to banning alcohol or cutting back on alcohol substantially, but as you can imagine… it's very difficult to monitor peoples' alcohol consumption in the parking lot and tailgating is a big part of the NFL experience," he added.

The tide is hopefully turning. The exposing of Gate D "Mardi Gras" left the Jets and NJSEA, along with the State Police, with no choice but to crack down on the embarrassing behavior.

As a result, there will be more security personnel on duty at future Jets games. We hope their presence will deter general disorderliness and begin creating a climate in which some fans will fear the consequences of acting like morons.

In the end, however, it'll be up to the minority in Jets Nation who think football games are frat parties to check their adolescence at the gates.


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