The following letter was published Tuesday in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Ugly side of 49ers’ big game
Letters to the editor, Jan. 17
I’ve lived in the Bay Area for 25 years but have remained a staunch Saints fan with close ties to New Orleans. My family still lives in New Orleans and has held our season tickets since 1967. I “get” the emotion of the game, the moment and the enthusiasm of the 49er fans.
Despite the extraordinary setting at the ’Stick, we were shocked by the hostility, vulgarity and intimidation that rained down on me and my two teenage daughters from the moment we stepped into the parking lots. Yes, we were proudly wearing our Saints colors; that’s what loyal fans do. And yes, we expected some good-natured jeering.
We had vulgarities screamed at us repeatedly in the parking lots and literally nonstop by the hooligans around us in the stands. While walking through the lots we had footballs thrown at us, guys screaming curses in our faces — my daughters asked if I had heard the guy who yelled “your mother’s a whore,” which I had, but couldn’t show a reaction for fear for my daughters’ and my own safety. We finally took to shadowing two cops that were strolling through the lots until we dashed for what we thought would be the relative sanity of the stadium.
The stadium was no better. Every other word from dozens of fans around us was an f-bomb shouted at the top of their lungs. There were seven or eight large 30- to 35-year-old guys directly behind us who cursed and threatened us the entire game. After one string of profanities I turned around to look at them and the most obnoxious and combative of the bunch yelled, “Do not turn around again! Do not ever turn around again” and punctuated it with a profanity. They used gay slurs repeatedly at the husband of a middle-aged couple in front of us, the only other Saints fan in our area, and called his wife a bitch.
One of my daughters asked me, “Why don’t you do something, Daddy?” Do what? Fight 10 guys, call/text security when all those guys behind me would know who would have fingered them?
Leave early? We almost did.
The hostility and threats of violence were a constant throughout our experience. It appeared to be ingrained in the fans’ culture, similar to the hooliganism that destroyed the reputation of English soccer. The long wait for the playoffs, the excitement of a big game? No excuse. I’ve been to big games in venues around the world and believe me, I’ve been a Saints fan my whole life so I certainly know about long playoff waits. The Vikings fans in the tailgate parties before the NFC championship game were eating crayfish and dancing along with the Saints fans — they weren’t threatened, they were having a great time.
Every 49ers fan, the team and its owners should be ashamed and embarrassed to wear the red and gold today. They won the game but are losers in every other way.
Don Moses, Mill Valley