What do you expect when you start drinking at 9 am?
Three hours before the "Monday Night Football" game against the Dallas Cowboys, Chris Clark, a former Erie County sheriff who is now head of security for the Buffalo Bills, was making his pregame rounds.
"How's the crowd?" he asked two deputies.
"It's gonna get ugly," one of them predicted.
They should know. During a game last year, the officers had to leave their patrol car. When they returned, all four tires had been deflated and their car was littered with empty beer cans.
Unruly behavior at sporting events has been one of the most visible signs of the coarsening of American culture, but the NFL is in a league of its own. One reason is the sheer size of the crowds. The Washington Redskins, who lead the National Football League in attendance, draw about 90,000 fans per game, almost twice the average number of baseball fans at Yankee Stadium and four times the number of spectators at the best-attended National Basketball Association and National Hockey League games.
The other reason is tailgating. While television cooking shows tend to focus on the food, walk through most NFL stadium parking lots and the clear focus is on alcohol. And lots of it.
"The Twins fans come in and have one or two beers," said Marty Neumann, manager of The Little Wagon, a sports bar near Minneapolis's Metrodome. "The Vikings fans come in and have 10."
This article goes on to describe the bad places (Iggles games @ the old Veterans Stadium) and times (NY Jets night games are bad). Season ticket holders are better behaved because they have the most to lose (the team/league can take away their season pass).
One honorable mention: On two occasions I have tailgated and been in Alltel Stadium in Jax while wearing the opposing teams shirt and I was treated with kindness and when my team lost, with empathy.