JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Perhaps the only thing more embarrassing than the Jaguars’ meltdown Sunday against the division rival Texans was a violent incident in the stands that spawned its own wave of headlines. For those who missed it, a Jacksonville fan knocked out an opposing team’s fan with a sucker punch. The cheap shot was caught on cellphone video, which has since gone viral.
A spectator posted a video clip of the incident on Facebook. It shows a group of fans jawing back and forth while other fans hold them back. Without warning, a man decked out in Jaguars gear rears back and drills a Texans fan with a punch to the side of the head, sending him sprawling into the aisle. Dazed, the Texans fan struggles to find his feet while police and security break up the fight.
These things don’t happen in a vacuum. But since the clip is just shy of a minute long, it’s unclear what may have happened before the punch was thrown. Several witnesses who spoke with News4Jax suggested that the attack may have been provoked by a Texans fan, but so far there is no official word on what the circumstances were.
Forrest Blackshear, the Jaguars fan who posted the clip on Facebook, told News4Jax the video is a snapshot that does not tell the whole story. Beforehand, he said, a woman who was with the Texans fan instigated the fight by throwing a beer at Jaguars fans. "The lady he was with, she threw the beer," said Blackshear. "So him getting punched was because of her actions."
"Things didn't escalate to what the video showed until a Texans fan threw a beer," he said. "So we were cool with trash talking. Jaguars fans were cool with that because of the product on the field. But things didn't escalate until the Texans fan threw the beer."
No one was arrested as a result of the incident, said Officer Melissa Bujeda, public information officer for the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. Bujeda said none of the individuals involved wanted to pursue the case with law enforcement. "It is up to them if they wish to pursue it," she said.
The individuals involved declined to pursue the battery with law enforcement. — Jax Sheriff's Office (@JSOPIO) October 22, 2018
The lack of criminal charges came as a surprise to Alex Kalkines and Laura Nash. The couple were a few rows away from the confrontation when they saw a fist fly. "A few people around us told us, because I'm pregnant, 'You'd better get up and stand in the next row over,'" said Nash. "Because I just saw people getting rowdy."
Two fans involved in the fracas were ejected from the game and are banned from buying tickets to future games, the Jaguars said in a statement issued through a team spokesperson. Spokesperson Dan Edwards said the team does not "condone" the fans' behavior, and said the team remains committed to providing a safe experience for fans:
The Jacksonville Jaguars and our stadium partners are firmly committed to maintaining a safe and enjoyable experience for all who visit TIAA Bank Field, including fans of the visiting team.
We in no way condone the behavior during Sunday’s Jaguars vs. Texans game, which included a physical altercation between fans in the east stands. Per our Fan Code of Conduct, two individuals involved in the altercation were ejected from the stadium. Each party, whether a Jaguars season ticket member or a single game purchaser, has had their ticket purchasing privileges rescinded.
The Jaguars are grateful for the immediate response by stadium security personnel to the situation.
Kalkines said he expected the people involved would be shown the door because that's how things have been handled in the past. Last season, two fans were ejected and banned from Jaguars games after they were seen on camera flinging objects at a Seahawks player.
"From my understanding, I know that's the rule," he said. "If you get kicked out of the game, they ban you. So I wouldn't stray from the rule. I do feel bad for the Jaguars fan because, in a sense, he was defending himself."
News4Jax wants to speak with the man seen throwing the punch. If you recognize him or witnessed what took place before the recording begins, send us an email at email@example.com, or reach out to us in the comments.
Copyright 2018 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.