CLEVELAND - Rob Stipe has been going to Cleveland Browns games for the last 25 years. He's in a family of season ticket holders, and those tickets have always been in the Dawg Pound—a perfect place for die-hard fan who would prefer to stand and shout rather than sit back and take in the game.
But last weekend, before the Browns fourth quarter comeback, Stipe said he was booted from the stadium--for standing too much.
Stipe said that during the third quarter, a group of security officers and sheriff's deputies approached him and said that he needed to leave the stadium because he had been standing too much throughout the game. Security officials warned him to sit down earlier in the game, Stipe said.
"They came up and said, ‘sir, you're standing too much, you have to go,'" said Stipe, also known as "Big R."
Stipe, 35, of South Amherst, said he has argued with security officers before about the rules regarding standing. During a game last season, Stipe said he was warned by a security guard and police officers that he was standing too much, so he asked about the policies about the appropriate times to stand.
The security guard, Stipe said, explained that standing is acceptable on third and fourth downs, at big moments of the game and during timeouts because there is no action on the field to block.
In Sunday's game against the Dolphins, Sipe said that he was warned to sit down on a third down play in the first half and then kicked out during a commercial break in the third quarter.
"I'm not here to bash the Browns, and I'm not here to bash security," Stipe said. "I just want a rule telling me when I can stand and when I can't stand."
The Browns Fan Code of Conduct on the team's website says the following, in regards to standing:
"Excessive standing - please be aware that when you stand, you block the view of the fans behind you. We do not wish to diminish your ability to cheer and enjoy the game; however, your continued standing can interfere with others' ability to enjoy the game from their seats."
Neal Gulkis, team Vice President for Media Relations, said that the rule against excessive standing is a complaint-based rule.
"We want our fans to be loud and cheer for our team, but there are times where you basically have to respect others at the game as well," Gulkis said.
The NFL and the Browns have made efforts in recent years to tone down the rowdiness at games, but the standing rule is going too far, Stipe said.
"We're at a football game, there's no reason we should sit down if we don't want to," Stipe said. "I disagree with throwing batteries and snowballs and being crazy like that. But I think I should be able to stand up, yell and cheer."
Some fans sitting in the same section as Stipe said they weren't surprised to see him get removed from the game because he was warned earlier, and did not sit down when the ushers asked him to do so.
"To stand the whole game, there's no need for that," season ticket holder Eugene Vasser said. "I don't pay $50 for a ticket to watch someone in front of me stand the entire time."
After being asked to leave, Stipe said he filed a complaint with guest services. Now, he said he wants to meet with team President Mike Holmgren to go over the policies.
"My mom always taught me to stand up for what I believe in," Stipe said, "and this time, I'm literally doing that."
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