Lions need to focus on football after disruptive fan incident: coach

SURREY, B.C. — The coach of the B.C. Lions is calling an incident where one of his players levelled a partially clothed fan “unfortunate.”

Wally Buono says his players need to focus on football after defensive back Marcell Young hit a fan who ran on to the field Saturday wearing only an orange Lions jersey and boxer briefs.

The on-field antics came during a during a stoppage in play during the team’s home opener against Montreal, and two of Young’s teammates followed the hit with a chest bump and a high five as a security guard apprehended the fan on the ground.

The fan, who has since retained the services of a law firm, has not had his identity released, but Vancouver police have said he’s in his 20s and from Surrey, B.C.

He was issued a $115 ticket for trespassing and banned from the BC Place for a year.

Buono says he has talked to his players about focusing on playing football, because doing anything else is only going to cause issues.

He noted that this isn’t the first time there’s been a confrontation between a fan and a professional athlete.

“It’s not something that you would ever want. It’s not healthy for the fan, it’s not healthy for the player. Nobody wins in those situations,” he said after practice on Thursday.

“Unfortunately, sports is an emotional game and sometimes things unfortunately get out of control.”

Buono added that everyone at a football game has responsibilities, from the players on the filed to the fans in the stands.

“You come to a professional sporting event, you pay for a ticket, that’s great, but it doesn’t exonerate you from un-normal behaviour,” Buono said. “A sporting event is just another part of society.”

Prezler Law Firm issued a statement Wednesday, saying the fan had retained its services and has “suffered serious injuries, including a mild traumatic brain injury” from the hit.

Hiring a lawyer seems like a cash grab, said Montreal Alouettes quarterback Drew Willy.

“That’s kind of the world we live in. Sometimes things just don’t make sense. At the end of the day he’s probably just looking for a handout or something,” Willy said.

Other players see the situation in another light.

“I just thought it was hilarious,” said Alouettes wide receiver B.J. Cunningham. “He had a (Lions quarterback) Jon Jennings jersey with his boxer briefs, I thought that was funny. I mean he hit him, that was unfortunate for the league or whatever.”

Edmonton Eskimos linebacker J.C. Sherritt said he’d be concerned about his own safety if he were in Young’s place.

“In this day and age, I’m not going to let anybody get in my personal space.” he said. “If he’s away from me and I don’t see it, great, but If it’s around me, I’m going to defend myself and that’s the bottom line. I’m not going to take chances with that.”

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