May 20, 2024

Violence in the stands marred a spirited Monday night game between the Chargers and Dallas Cowboys at SoFi Stadium, a development that flies in the face of a recent study that ranked the Inglewood venue as one of the safer ones in the NFL.

Several fights between fans were the subject of video clips circulating on X, formerly known as Twitter.

But the first punches thrown were by players before the game kicked off. That might have set a poor example for the 70,240 in attendance.

The incident involving the players began as Dallas was taking the field for warmups and several Cowboys ran through the Chargers’ defensive backs as they were conducting their usual pregame drills.

“I felt like that’s just disrespectful, especially at home, in our house,” Chargers safety Dean Marlowe said. “That just basically shows us that they don’t have no respect for us. I took that personally.”

Coaches and a game official eventually broke it up, but not until Chargers running back Austin Ekeler took a blow to the head from the Cowboys defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. that knocked his helmet off.

Soon enough fans emulated their heroes.

A fight on a concourse exit involved a dozen or more fans, and several were knocked to the ground. Other fights took place in the stands.

No fans involved in the fights were arrested, according to the Inglewood Police Department.

Alcohol typically plays a role in violent behavior by fans, and a game that ended after 8 p.m. likely invited more drinking than a day game. The Cowboys took a 20-17 lead on a late field goal and Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert had a pass intercepted in the waning moments.

A recent poll of more than 3,000 fans by Sportsbook Review concluded that many NFL stadiums are more violent than SoFi Stadium, and that fans generally feel safe attending games at the venue that opened in September 2020.

Crimes in and around stadiums occur all too often, with 39.2% of respondents reported having witnessed or fallen victim to at least one crime in or outside stadiums. Only 5.4% of fans had witnessed a crime at SoFi, and only one of those polled said they had been a victim of a crime while attending a Rams or Chargers home game.

That doesn’t mean violent incidents haven’t occurred at the Inglewood venue. A man was thrown over a railing after the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Chargers in November 2022.

Eight months earlier, Bryan Alexis Cifuentes was charged with a felony count of battery with serious bodily injury in connection with a fight in the stadium’s parking lot during the Jan. 30 NFC championship game between the Rams and the San Francisco 49ers that left the victim, Daniel Luna, in an induced coma.

In the November 2022 incident, video recorded by a bystander shows two men fighting, one of them wearing what appears to be a Chargers jersey. At one point, another man was thrown over the side of a railing, falling onto the concrete steps below. He can be seen getting up in the video.

SoFi did not do so well in a category pertaining to female fans, who were asked if they felt comfortable alone in or around their team’s stadium. A whopping 62.5% of respondents said they felt uncomfortable at SoFi, a number topped only by the 73.7% of women who said they were uncomfortable alone at Ford Field in Detroit.

After the incidents Monday night, those percentages probably would spike upward in another poll.

Times staff writer Jeff Miller contributed to this report.

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