CLEVELAND - The National Football League's new bag policy will be in effect Thursday for the first Cleveland Browns' pre-season home game, and northeast Ohio women are reacting strongly to it.
"They're asking you to pretty much walk in there with a plastic sandwich bag if you're a woman, exposing all of your contents out there like you're some basic criminal that can't be trusted with toiletries," said Jen Verrillo, a Lakewood resident who took a sarcastic jab at the policy on her blog, www.thebroadsside.com . That post has now been shared on Facebook more than 10,000 times.
Beginning this season, the NFL no longer permits bags or purses into stadiums. Instead, all personal contents must fit into a transparent plastic bag no larger than 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches.
"We understand it's an inconvenience," said Alec Scheiner, president of the Cleveland Browns."It probably outweighs the risk of the danger."
Scheiner said April's Boston marathon bombings prompted the NFL to ban bags.
"We know this enhances our fan experience because it makes it safer," he said. "It will also get people in the building faster."
Scheiner said without bags and purses to inspect, attendees will move through security and into the stadium quicker.
But Verrillo, who was so frustrated by the policy that she wrote a complaint letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, believes women are unfairly targeted by the move.
"I don't really think it's the soccer mom contingency that's going to bring our purses to the game that's your problem," she added.
Verrillo, whose bag blog post has since been featured on Reddit.com and HuffingtonPost.com, attributed her Internet success to the topic's controversy.
"Everybody wants to talk about it, so it's obviously an issue," she said.
The issue got women at Folicle Hair Salon in Lakewood talking.
"To have to walk through public and reveal what's going on in your life, as a woman, I think that's kind of stepping the boundaries," said Maxine Josie, a hair stylist.
"If you're a young mom and you have to carry diapers, wipes, a bottle with you, I don't know how you'd fit all of that with a wallet and phone in a plastic bag," said Jodi Parras, whose children were getting their hair cut at the salon.
Josie said the new rule gives her no motivation to attend a game. But despite Verrillo's frustration, she won't boycott the Browns.
"I'm still going to go to the game," she said. "It's probably going to be inconvenient. I'm probably going to lose my lipstick. I'm probably going to forget that my wallet and credit card are in my pocket, and it's going to end up in the washer the next day."
For more information on the NFL's new bag policy, visit their website: http://www.nfl.com/qs/allclear/index.jsp