IN THE NO-BRAINER decision of the year, the Eagles yesterday announced they will disarm their own fans at Sunday’s game against the hated New York Giants.
Having already seized their guns, drugs and sharp objects, the team banned the sale of plastic beer bottles during the game.
The move had nothing to do with rescuing the city’s long-suffering beer-swillers from the synthetic taste assault posed by these polymerized containers.
It was instead prompted by a spectacular game-ending bottle barrage two weekends ago in Cleveland. Another copycat incident followed in New Orleans.
In that atmosphere, the plastic bottle ban is the Philly equivalent of seizing the Taliban’s rocket launchers.
“This is something we discussed internally right after the events that took place in Cleveland and New Orleans,” Eagles president Joe Banner said in a statement.
“. . . Ultimately, we feel that this is the most logical step that be taken on behalf of everyone in attendance at our games. ”
The Eagles thus join the Giants, Browns, Colts and 49ers in the spreading bottle ban.
The pre-emptive strike for peace is especially timely in South Philadelphia, where the stadium is gearing up for a gridiron classic on Sunday – both on the field and in the stands.
The NFC East Division title is at stake at the final home game of the season.
Meanwhile, the fans will be juiced. Game time is 4:15 p.m., which gives the serious boozers extra daylight hours for their ritual pregame lubrication.
Further, the Giants are a hated rival, with their own share of boorish fans who make the ride down I-95. Fistfights between Gi’nts and Iggles fans have become so common, the Eagles routinely beef up security.
Normally, the Eagles ask the NFL to schedule early matchups against New York (and Washington). But the league long ago recognized this as a prime-time clash, and set it as a late-afternoon nationally televised game.
Then came the mess in Cleveland.
In the days following that stadium-to-field assault, Veterans Stadium reg’lars had been grousing that the interlopers from Ohio had momentarily scuffed our city’s reputation as the Rowdiest Fans in the NFL.
Would Philadelphia’s chest-beaters attempt to regain their lost mantle?
Eagles fans have been known to toss batteries and snowballs. Once, some nut shot off a flare gun.
But plastic beer bottles?
They were introduced to the Vet in 1999 at Phillies games.
The Eagles OK’d their sale this season on a trial basis, according to team spokesman Ron Howard.
Beer drinkers are split over them. Traditionalists believe beer tastes best in glass. But flavor is hardly a matter of concern at the Vet, where rivers of tasteless light swill are downed by thirsty, buzz-happy fans.
The stadium concessionaire, Aramark, favors them because they’re easy to handle and portion-controlled. Unlike draft beer poured into cups, the bottles are not subject to the type of suds-skimming scam that plagued the stadium a few years ago.
Yesterday, an Aramark spokesman said the company played no role in the decision to ban their sale.
“It’s really not for us to comment on whether it’s the right or wrong decision,” spokesman Sean Clements said. “They just asked us to do it. ”
Normally, the $5 bottles are sold without caps, presumably so that – if tossed – any beer would be emptied before the bottle conks someone.
Some wags noted that no self-respecting Eagles fan would ever hurl a bottle full of beer – such a senseless waste of alcohol! Given the long lines at the Vet’s filthy men’s rooms, however, that boast is no guarantee that the bottles would, in fact, remain empty.
Thus, the Eagles decided not to arm their fans with 20-ounce projectiles.
It’s not just beer, of course.
The team banned the sale of soda and water bottles, too. And fans will no longer be permitted to enter the stadium with bottled water, either.
“We have made a number of changes in the last few years to improve safety at our games,” Banner said in the statement.
“We are both proud of the significant improvement and aware of the challenges that remain. This decision is consistent with our commitment to a positive environment for all who attend Eagles games.”