Long lines at M&T Bank Stadium were frustrating, but security should be the priority

October 09, 2011|Kevin Cowherd

If you're a Ravens fan going to Sunday's game against the Houston Texans, here's good news: you probably won't spend half your life getting into M&T Bank Stadium this time.

It shouldn't be nearly as bad as two weeks ago, when the NFL's enhanced security measures led to long lines before the Ravens' nationally televised beat-down of the New York Jets.

Many fans waited close to an hour to get in. And this'll shock you: they weren't happy about it. They whined about it on talk-radio shows. They lit up message boards.

And they called and emailed me.

"Why are you bothering me?" I asked them. "Do I look like I work for the Ravens?"

OK, it wasn't the best way to handle it. But I was in the middle of a crossword puzzle. I told them to call the Ravens.

But the Ravens were already on it. Apparently, they had heard from plenty of ticked-off fans, too.

Which is why things should go more smoothly Sunday.

"At the recommendation of security experts, we don't talk publicly about security programs or issues," Kevin Byrne, the Ravens' crack PR guru, said. "That said, we are looking into the cause of the long lines from [the Ravens-Jets game] and we will be making adjustments."

Translation: it should be better this week. A lot better. Because the Ravens don't want to hear anymore whining, either.

Personally, I have absolutely no problems with the NFL's new security measures, which include a more extensive pat-down.

That's because when I go to a ballgame, I'd rather not have anyone pull a gun or a knife or a Taser on me. I'm kind of funny that way. And if a better pat-down prevents some lunatic from bringing that stuff in, I'm OK with it.

I'd also prefer that a terrorist not be able to set off a bomb or nuclear device while I'm in the stands. Or the press box, for that matter.

So I'm all for anything the NFL does to make fans safer. I'm all for pat-downs, metal-detecting wands, bomb-sniffing dogs, you name it. Bring it on. You'll get no complaints here.

I feel the same way about going through security at airports.

I don't care what they make me do to get on a flight. I'll take off my belt, shoes, whatever they want. I'd take even more off if they want me to. (I know, I know . . . that's a bad visual.) And I have no problem taking my laptop out of the bag, or throwing away those little shampoo bottles that freak out the security folks because they think they might be nitroglycerine.

l willingly go through all that — as long as everybody else on the flight goes through it, too. Because I don't want to be at, say, 30,000 feet when the guy in seat 16A pulls a shish kabob skewer from his sock and threatens the flight attendant for being slow with the beverage cart.

On the other hand, if I pay good money for a ticket to a ballgame, I don't want to miss any of it because I'm waiting in a security line that stretches to Montana. And that's apparently what happened two weeks ago at the Bank. Some fans waited so long to be patted down that they missed the kickoff.

Even more disturbing, I heard some lines were so long that as game-time neared, the security people were practically waving fans in, doing more of a cursory pat-down to speed things along.

Maybe it's me, but there's a term I don't want to hear when I'm at a ballgame: cursory pat-down. Not with all the nut-jobs in the stands now. Look, a Dallas Cowboys fan somehow smuggled a Taser into the Jets-Cowboys game at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey a few weeks ago and tasered three Jets fans. Did he get a cursory pat-down on the way in?

One of the main complaints I heard about the Ravens-Jets game is that the long lines to go through security cut down on the amount of time fans could spend tailgating.

But to me, that's probably a good thing if it limits all the pre-game beer-swilling and boozing. Anything that lowers the drunk quotient at ballgames gets my vote, too.

You know how dogs naturally gravitate to the person in the room who most dislikes them? That's kind of how it is with me and drunks.

I can't tell you how many games I've been to where drunks have ruined the experience. Either they're cursing and causing fights or — worse — they're sitting next to me and want to talk. And then they never shut up.

Which is when you could really use security.

Listen to Kevin Cowherd Tuesdays at 7:20 a.m. on 105.7 The Fan's "Norris and Davis Show."

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