Fans Against Violence – A Mother’s Story

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I am a fan against violence and a mother against violence.  On December 11, 2011, my son James Mohr was assaulted in the parking lot of MetLife Stadium after a NY Jets-Kansas City Chiefs game.  James had been involved in a verbal exchange with a Kansas City fan who had made some comments about 9/11.  He thought that he would enlighten her regarding the inappropriateness of her statements.  When that discussion was ended, someone came from behind him and dealt him a beating that resulted in severe but thankfully not life-threatening injuries.  Our family continues to be affected by this incident.

Maureen and James Mohr

Maureen & James Mohr

Of course, our lives came to a standstill as we spent days and nights at the hospital before and after the surgery done to repair James’ face, which had been broken in three places.  More frightening was that he had some bleeding on the brain and had suffered a major concussion.  James was 23 at the time, and healthy and strong.  At first I obsessed about the brain and then started worrying that he would lose his dimples when his face was reconstructed.  The plastic surgeon did a magnificent job and he still has those dimples.  His eyes, however, are not in sync with one another and he still is being treated for that problem.  The effects of the concussion are less apparent – mood swings, headaches, and all the things that sons don’t share with their mothers.

I have never been able to stand violent behavior.  I can’t watch violence in movies, can’t even watch a boxing match.  I don’t understand why anyone gets pleasure from hitting someone else.  When I read about people being beaten, it used to make me sick.  Now it makes me sicker.  I think about James being left on the ground, his head bleeding and in a state of unconsciousness, and I am astounded that anyone could have done this to my son.

I question whether I should have encouraged my children to be competitive – they are indeed avid fans of some team in every sport.  They have played soccer, basketball, baseball, hockey, and have run track and are good swimmers.  They have always wanted to win, and they have always wanted their teams to win.  Although I don’t really believe that this was an instance of team rivalry, I know that those kinds of rivalries have resulted in similar violent behavior.  It is not acceptable.  We should be able to root for our teams without anticipating that a physical attack might ensue.

Given the catalyst of this event – the verbal exchange with the Kansas City fan–I wonder if I should have supported my son’s right to state his opinion about things and to believe that he could talk someone into adopting his point of view.  Freedom of speech and all that – things I thought my children should appreciate.  So I question myself constantly.

And I worry.  Never having thought something like this could happen, now I know that it can and it does and it did.  My children are adults and yet I never stop worrying.  I wonder if I ever will stop worrying and if it’s possible to resign from this job as mother.  There are doctor’s and hospital bills to contend with, a criminal case that we try to follow and of course the following up on the health issues.  When I see strangers parked on our block, I wonder if someone is stalking one of my family members; if the phone rings in the middle of the night, my heart stops.

I realize that I have become a prisoner of sorts – that someone else’s criminal act has caused me to imprison myself with fear, uncertainty and negativity.  By doing this, my spirit is impaired and everything is more difficult.  Luckily, I have come to recognize this impairment and I am determined to knock down those prison walls and enjoy my freedoms and cheer for my teams.  It is my hope that all fans may do the same in a healthy and safe environment and that no mother will have to meet her child in a trauma center after a football game.

HOPE: An Inside Job – An Inspiring Article By Deion Sanders and Tejado W. Hanchell, PhD

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In today’s tough economic times our lives are filled with stress, fear and sometimes hopelessness. As everything around us seems to be going up; unemployment, taxes, the price of gas and food, our morale as a nation seems to be going down. Many people ask themselves on a daily basis “Will things ever get better?” With these life issues comes a feeling of helplessness and a sense of being alone in our struggles. Studies have shown that economical and emotional stress and/or hopelessness may be some of the many possible contributors to the growing trend in fan violence.

We were so happy to read the very inspirational article below and to be given the chance to share it with you.

We would like to thank NFL Hall of Famer, Deion Sanders and Tejado W. Hanchell, PhD for being so gracious and allowing us to bring this to you.

We encourage you to read this article and share it with your friends! Everyone can use a little HOPE and inspiration in their lives!

“HOPE: An Inside Job”

“I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired!”
“I’m out!”
“I’m done!”
“I’m gone!”
“I just can’t take it anymore!”

These are statements often uttered from the mouths of people who have given up hope. Whether it’s in life, business, sports, or relationships, we all need hope to keep on going. Hope is the elusive elixir of life. It is the fuel that makes the engine of our lives move forward. While gas may be nearly $5 a gallon in the US, we cannot even begin to put a value on the price of hope.

Hope is what gets that man out of bed even though he’s been out of work for 6 months. Hope is what allows that woman to keep a smile on her face even when she’s alone, feeling lonely, and love hasn’t visited her in quite a while. Hope is what allows us to go to sleep at night and have peace when all hell is breaking loose. Hope is the one thing in our life that is not dependent solely on what’s going on in our life. In fact, hope is the expectation that, regardless of how bad things may be right now, they WILL get better. Hope is “the expectation of good.”

Now, I know you may be saying, “Prime, things are so bad right now, I don’t know if I can have any hope, and I wouldn’t recognize hope if it knocked on my door.” My friend, the reality is BECAUSE things are so bad is why you really NEED hope. Your life may be hanging on by a thread (many friends and love ones have left you for dead), but now is the time to grab hold of the rope of hope. When you hang on to hope…hope won’t leave you hanging. (Somebody should just clap right there!)

Deion SandersThe thing about hope is that you have to hope in something bigger than yourself or your situation. For me, my hope is rooted in my relationship with the Lord. I found hope in Him when I couldn’t find hope in PMS – Power Money & Sex. I was living in a big house, but I didn’t have hope. I was driving expensive cars, but they could not give me hope. As a matter of fact, I was suicidal. The enemy had tricked me into believing that I would be much better off dead. I had all of the things that society said should make you happy, but you can’t be happy if you don’t have hope. I had all those things, yet I had no hope. But there is good news. Even if you don’t have PMS…you can still have hope!

One of my spiritual mentors, Bishop Alfred Owens, often says that hope is the “neglected triplet.” The Bible talks about faith, hope and love in I Corinthians 13. Most people focus on faith and love, but few people take the time to talk about hope. The Rev. Jesse Jackson is famous for saying, “Keep hope alive!” I have found that is often easier said than done. So the question remains, “How can I have hope when my life seems hopeless?” It seems like nobody cares. I’m jobless. I can’t support my kids. I don’t have a career. I’m neglected, overlooked, abandoned, and rejected.

The TRUTH is, hope has nothing to do with what’s going on around you. It has everything to do with what’s going on inside you. I refuse to allow my environment or people, places or things to control the thermostat of my life, and I don’t care how YOU feel about me, what matters the most is how I feel about me! In a few weeks, I will be speaking in Winston-Salem, NC for an event called “Hope on the Inside”* sponsored by the Forsyth Jail & Prison Ministries. This ministry focuses on bringing hope to men and women who are incarcerated and to their families. The thing about some of you is that you are free, but yet you’re incarcerated. And there are many people in jail that are incarcerated, but they’re free. If a man or woman in prison can have hope, why can’t you?

The reality is, however, that while many of us are walking around free we are locked up in our own internal prisons. We are bound the guilt and shame of our past, but the key to freedom is hope. You do not have to be a prisoner to your past. Hope sets you free! Guilt and shame will always focus on your past, but hope looks toward your future. Guilt and shame focus on what you DID. Hope focuses on who you ARE. And who you ARE is better than what you DID! TRUTH!

Don’t get caught up in the mistakes of your past. Leave your past in the past, and look with hope toward your future. Although I looked back with my hand on my head highstepping…I could never run at full speed looking back! As the Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 3:13-14, we are to forget what’s behind us, and reach for what is in front of us. The only way we can reach forward is if we have hope. I must warn you though, hope comes with side effects. When you have hope, it’s hard for you to be selfish. When your life is filled with hope, you want to do everything in your power to share it with someone else.

HOPE = Helping Others Pursue Excellence

Hope doesn’t just make you better; it helps you to make others better. That’s what it did for me. Hope is what caused me to start the Primetime Sports Association, the TRUTH organization, and Prime Prep Academy, and to be the face of Georgia and Texas in the summer feeding program where we feed up to 100,000 kids a day and employ up to 50 kids in the summer months through the Texas Workforce Commission. It’s because of hope that I drive two hours every day to work with kids and families to help them see that they have a bright future, not only in sports, but in academics. Hope turned my life around, and it can turn yours around too. I used to dance when I scored touchdowns. Now I dance when I see the smiles of hope on the faces of kids and parents in our TRUTH program.

Hope is a powerful thing. It can turn any time into Primetime!

TRUTH!

Deion Sanders
www.twitter.com/DeionSanders

Tejado W. Hanchell
www.twitter.com/TWH_PhD

To see the original posting of this site, please visit Deion Sanders website and blog.

Fantastic Article on Fan Violence by NYC Attorney Nicholas R. Hector

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Great article on Fan Violence by Nicholas R. Hector. Nicholas is a NYC Corporate/Entertainment Attorney and entrepreneur with a love for and an extensive knowledge of sports law, sports media, and the unique relationship between public relations/image cultivation and the professional athlete.

This article was originally published on ThirdandFour, a sports blog co-founded by Nicholas Hector and Andrew H Fine. Nicholas has graciously allowed us to repost his article and given his support to FAV Please take a minute to visit their site.

Where the Regulation of Violence in Sports Will Inevitably Extend:The Stands & Outside the Stadium/Arena

The professional and college sports industries have without question reached milestones with respect to revenue generation over the past decade.  Both the National Football League and the National Basketball Association experienced pre-season lockouts and subsequent consuming negotiation sessions with their respective players’ unions concerning profit sharing.  In 2010, the NCAA signed a monumental $10.8 billion contract with CBS Corporation and Time Warner Inc.’s Turner Broadcasting for the media rights to its beloved Men’s Division I College Basketball Tournament, known by most as March Madness.

FAV - UK Fans

The University of Kentucky fans "celebrate" the Wildcats' Final Four win over Louisville to gain a spot in the National Title game.

It goes without saying that fans are the impetus behind such revenue growth.  Whether a country and its citizens are facing a recession—even bankruptcy—or marvelous economic times, avid followers and fans of professional and college sports teams will pay hard-earned money for the pleasure drawn from watching talented athletes perform for up to three hours on the field, court or ice.  Fans will do so by attending such events, watching them at bars/restaurants, or through the purchase of oversized, flat-screen televisions for home.  David Levy, the President of Turner Sports, acknowledged in signing the March Madness media contract with the NCAA that “the tournament’s popularity and success [had outgrown] the ability for one network to provide all the coverage fans are looking for.”  Similarly, CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus recognized, “the opportunity for viewers to watch whatever game they want to on up to four different networks has to result in more eyeballs, more gross rating points and more exposure for the tournament, thereby creating much more value for the advertisers.”

I think it’s awesome that fans of professional and college sports teams continue to use this source of entertainment as an escape from the struggles facing the lives of individuals on a daily basis in many countries around the globe, including financial turmoil, disease, death and general unhappiness.  However, over the same decade that the sports industry has experienced rapid revenue growth and increased popularity, the fan experience at and following sporting events has become more violent, tragic and unpleasant.  A problem clearly exists that neither the professional leagues, the NCAA Directors nor the athletes have sufficiently addressed, or are even equipped to address.

Indeed, the European professional soccer leagues have essentially condoned fan violence since their creation.  The Philadelphia Eagles’ late Veterans Stadium maintained holding cells to accommodate unruly fans.  These facts represent proof that the sports industry has accepted violence as part of the overall fan experience for quite some time.  For instance, in 2004, Lakers forward Ron Artest—or as legal documents now refer to him, Metta World Peace—climbed into the stands as an Indiana Pacer at The Palace of Auburn hills to exchange punches with a few rambunctious fans. In 2010, I attended a New York Jets game in New York as an Atlanta Falcons fan and was threatened by four Jets fans following the Falcons’ last minute defeat of the Jets.  Fortunately, violence never ensued, though not as a result of action taken by stadium security.  In 2011, a San Francisco Giants fan experienced the wrath of Dodger Stadium when several Dodger fans beat him almost to the point of death.  And just a few weeks ago, University of Kentucky basketball fans nearly burned down and destroyed Lexington, KY, following the Wildcats’ Final Four win over state rival Louisville to gain a spot in the National Title game.

However, what has either been condoned or overlooked by these leagues and the NCAA will inevitably draw a divide between fans, compelling those who are visiting the home stadium or establishment (e.g., sports bar) of an opposing team to discontinue their participation.  This decreased fan participation and interest will inevitably compel revenue to decline for the professional sports leagues, the NCAA, media outlets and corporate partners and sponsors.  Should violence and unpleasant behavior by fans persist at or following sporting events, how could it not have a domino impact on the sports industry?

So, where should we as fans and professionals in the industry place blame and seek assistance in preventing this evolving problem?  First and foremost, responsibility should be placed on the individuals who are involved in such inappropriate behavior.  Fans have progressively turned their allegiance to sports teams into something personal.  However, sustaining a loss through a favorite team is not analogous to losing a love one.  Fans must realize that their personal lives will continue unscathed, so long as they categorize sporting events as entertainment and nothing more.  This point allows me to transition to my second and final position.  The professional sports leagues, the NCAA, the athletes, the media outlets and the corporate partners and sponsors must take on the responsibility of reminding fans of this fact.  Indeed, most professional sporting venues stop serving alcohol at a certain point during team play.  College venues refuse to serve alcohol altogether.  Great, by taking alcohol out of the picture, these entities and individuals have indirectly implied to the fans that they should behave responsibly.  However, I’m asking—maybe even pleading to—these same entities and individuals to make a direct and blatant statement to the fans: “Stop the violence and inappropriate behavior!”  The NFL has already done so much to prevent violence on the field in an effort to protect its brand and revenue stream.  Take the next step and prevent it from occurring in the stands and outside the stadium.

Hey guys, it’s your money, not mine, that’s being placed on the line.

San Jose Restaurant Perpetuates Stereotypes by Refusing to Air Oakland Raiders or Dallas Cowboys Games

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High Five Pizza -Refusing to play Raider Cowboy Games

A Bay Area restaurant known as High Five Pizza, promotes itself as the friendliest restaurant in the San Jose area. It was even voted one of the top five places in the Bay Area to watch football, yet they have decided to refuse to air games involving either the Oakland Raiders or the Dallas Cowboys.

It’s hard to believe that any restaurant that bills itself as a place to watch sports would virtually ban the fans of any particular team. As we all know, there are good and bad people in all fan bases.

The only thing the restaurant’s policy does, is to continue to perpetuate stereotypes and encourage animosity between fans. Yet a phone call to the restaurant manager confirmed that indeed, this is the policy.

As an Oakland Raiders’ fan who is about as far from violent as it gets, I’m highly offended. But it isn’t just that. I’m not a fan of the Dallas Cowboys, but I am a fan of people, and to make a group of people feel unwelcome based on a very unjust prejudiced goes far over the line being reasonable.

There are several groups, including Fans Against Violence, who are working to end violence at sporting events of all types. They aim to encourage good-will and sportsmanship. The actions of High Five Pizza are disheartening, and serves the opposite purpose of what Fans Against Violence is all about.

If you agree, let your voice be heard. Call the manager of High Five Pizza in San Jose, California at (408) 629-6800.

One Year Later: A Raider Fan Recounts the Events of Her Brutal Attack

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Stop the Violence - Fans Against Violence

I didn’t go to the Chargers vs. Raider game this year in San Diego. The pain is still there. I knew it would bring up a flood of emotions and I am not sure, even a year later that I am ready for it. Even writing this now, is a struggle. But I want people to be aware.

I went last year with a friend who used to play for the Chargers. He was involved in alumni and special appearance functions. I was busy picking up some tickets for some of his crew and trying to get to the stadium to deliver them.

It was December 5th, and the traffic into the stadium was horrid. I was just sitting on the freeway, stuck, with the guys calling wanting to know where their tickets were. Finally I decided to get off at the next exit park and walk in. I knew it would be faster than trying to park inside.

I followed a few other vehicle with the same idea and we parked in an empty office parking lot. I paid attention to my surroundings, making sure I could find my way back to the truck after the game. I got the tickets to the guys at the gate, got to my seat, and enjoyed the game. It was a wonderful win. The Charger fans were cordial, and I was careful not to get too out of hand with my celebrating or comments.

Everyone filed quickly from the stadium, but I was so proud of our team, I had to stand over the tunnel and make sure the last Raider player, coach and staff had left the field, and had been appropriately “hurrah’d.”

Cell phone reception was iffy inside the stadium, but after the game, my friend was able to get through to me and let me know his friends would take him back to the hotel where I was staying.

I headed out to where I had parked his truck, walking with other people from the game–a mix of both Raider and Charger fans. And I felt nothing threatening.

I was only a block or two from getting back to my friend’s truck and all the people I was walking with at that point headed in different directions. I turned down the when two guys in hoodies stepped out of a brushy area where the sidewalk narrowed. I was careful to move to the far right side and noticed that they just had generic clothing on. They weren’t Charger fans. And they weren’t Raider fans.

Just as we were closely passing on the sidewalk the first blow came. Directly to my eye and blow after blow from the both of them continued to pummel my face and head. They pounded me.

Susan Manuel after being Brutally attacked

Susan Manuel 3 days after being brutally attacked

I could hear men run up and chase them, and what felt like a large woman grabbed me and comforted me.

It was at that point I realized my vision was gone. I could not see and at best any vision I could get was a blurred, triple vision.

They took my trademark fedora, they took a bracelet I was wearing, and they took my “2010 Season Ticket Holder” mini Raider backpack.

The backpack contained chap stick, gloves, an old digital camera, and sunglasses.Luckily my cell phone was zipped in my left Raider jacket pocket, and the keys to the truck were zipped in the right pocket. My cash and ID were zipped in a small secluded pocket.

They never said anything to me. Never asked for money. Never called me names. But it was clear, they meant to take my vision in the first blow.

The police asked me what they had on their hand when they hit me. I never saw the punch coming as they were too close and passing me at the same time.

The doctors asked the same thing. What weapon did they have? The damage to my eye was deep and extensive. I was sent to XRay, as they were sure my orbital and facial bones were fractured. I also had a concussion. Because they were not able to knock me down, the damage was contained to my head and face.

I was out of work for a month until I was able to regain some of my vision. There were of course repeated doctor visits to various specialists. But what was worse was hearing from other people…

Why didn’t you fall down and play dead? (Uh, because they would have kicked my ribs in and killed me). Why didn’t you have pepper spray? (Uh, because even if I had it–there would have not been enough time to get it out and use it). And yes, even one “helpful” person said you should have been carrying a gun. (And you really think I would have gotten into the game packing a gun, and again, there would have been not time to get it out and use it). And, then there was a person who said God must have been mad at me to allow this to happen to me.

A year later, I still have vision problems when I look up, down or to the side. it has taken time for me not to panic when I am alone, or when I am in a crowd.

And what did I learn?

-On game days, stay buddied up–no matter what.
-Do not carry anything of value in a bag or purse.
-Keep anything of value on your body. -Park in a controlled stadium parking lot.
-Even go to the bathroom or to concession stands in pairs. -Be constantly aware of appearances. (I was more focused on what the assailants were wearing than what their face looked like).
-Realize it doesn’t have to be a fan of the opposing team who assaults you. It can be anyone.
(The police determined they guys were not affiliated with either team, and were probably not even at the game).

Camaraderie Between Fan Bases: An Oakland Raiders Fan Shares His Experience

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Fan Camaraderie - Fans Against Violence

We are always on the look out for great stories which demonstrate positive interaction between fan bases…this week an Oakland Raider Fan, Adrian Yayo Canal, shared one of his personal experiences with a group of Indianapolis Colt fans.

A couple years ago I went to the game when we played the colts at home and behind us was a whole family of colts fans..from elder fans to kids..yea we were booing each other but that’s all it was…towards the end of the game they asked to take pictures with me and my cousin and we didn’t mind at all..and I must add right before we started leavin the seats that WHOLE family was thanking us and this and that..me and my cousin looked at each other and asked them why are u guys thankin us and their response was ”for having respect for us and not giving us a hard time and lettin us enjoy the game with you guys..that was a good feeling..I believe that was one of the first times I didn’t get judged cuz I was a raiders fan…people need to learn how to control themselves and there alcohol and let EVERYONE enjoy the game we love…sorry just wanted to share that…RRRRRAAAAIIIIIDDDDEEEERRRRSSSSS!!!…JUUST WIN!!

FAV would like to thank Adrian for sharing his story and allowing us to post it on our site!!

If you have a great story or pictures you would like to share, please email us at info@fansagainstviolence.org.

Oakland Raiders Character Dr. Death: Raider Nation Unmasked

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On game day mornings, or when there is a Raider event I am attending, I transform from a 23 year old college student and restaurant server into a big shoulder padded, black rain boots wearing, silver with black face painted, hardhat with a knife Mohawk sporting Raider character. The point of this get up is to create fear in the opposing team and take advantage of that ‘home field advantage’. But do not let my ‘scary’ look fool you.

Although my intentions are to channel my passion and energy towards Oakland Raider football games, I also use that same passion and energy off the field to help and unite all Fans Against Violence - Dr Death.jpg”>FAV-Dr Death Welcomes San Francisco 49er Fanpeople no matter their race, color, or team of their preference. I welcome all fans, including fans of opposing teams, to come experience game day with the Raider Nation. All fans should feel safe enough to scream at the top of their lungs while rooting for their team even if they are visiting an opposing stadium. I welcome the banter that sports brings through fandemonium and passion. I think I can speak for most Raider fans (especially the scary looking characters that are consistently seen on TV with spikes, bones, skeletons, silver and black face paint, or even that scary gorilla costume.) We represent the Raider Nation with a love, respect and passion for our team and for others.  This is how we should all be. Since the media does not use their journalistic duty to investigate both sides of fandemonium, I felt the need to inform every one, Raider fan or not, what true Raider fans are really like.

My name is Dr. Death and I consider myself a super fan of the Raider Nation. What most non Raider fans do not know, is that there is more to me than just the silver and black face paint, chains, bones, and costumes. As with the other characters, Raider fans and various groups I have gotten to know personally, there is a kind-hearted love and passion that goes beyond the fandemonium for the Raiders. There is humanitarianism a respect for community.

What most people do not know about Raider fans and its characters, is that most of the characters with face paint you see on TV have at least ONE charity to their name, if not more. Characters like Gorilla Rilla, Raider Jerry and others have put in countless hours to help charities. including ones that benefit children or troops overseas. I am personally involved with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Breast cancer Awareness, and recently became involved with No Kid Hungry and Fans Against Violence. For our efforts with these causes to be successful, we need the support of Raider fans. Without the support from other Raider fans, characters would not be successful in helping raise money. Unfortunately, most people do not know how involved in the community, Raider Nation really is. The reason for this is that the media rarely report this information.

There are Raider groups that do charity events year round such  M.O.B, which stands for Making Oakland Better. The San Jose Raider Drive booster club recently helped raise money for kids going back to school and helped raise money for the March of Dimes. This isn’t just a handful of Raider fans, these efforts are comprised of thousands of people that use their energy and passion for the Oakland Raiders and use it in a positive direction and cause.

I sometimes hear even my own friends call Raider fans hoodlums, violent, and angry. My question, is why? Is it because the way we dress? The way we look? The colors that we wear? What does that sound like to you? I ask the public, don’t just judge us on our looks or who we root for, but on what we do in our community. Judge us on your personal experience with us not on what other people think of us or second hand stories. I have been a part of the Raider Nation since my first game, at the age of seven years old, and I have never experienced or seen a violent act in Oakland. But I have experienced passionate people that love their Raiders. Once again, I invite everyone, Raider fan or not, to come to Oakland and experience the real world of the Raider Nation, not the world the media incorrectly paints on TV.