NFL investigating ‘sucker punch’ incident that left Panthers fan bleeding in the stands

The action on the field is being overshadowed by action in the stands. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

A Carolina Panthers fan who lost his cool during the team’s 28-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday may face repercussions for his bad behavior. On Friday morning, the NFL said it would look into an incident in which it appeared that a twenty-something male punch an older fan in the stands after the older fan complained the younger fan was blocking his view.

“We take all of these [incidents] very seriously,” a league official told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, adding the NFL has been in contact with security at the Panthers’ Bank of America Stadium about the incident.

The incident went viral overnight after an Instagram user named “Warren C” posted the tail end of it on social media. The video, which is graphic, shows the younger man delivering a series of punches to the face of the older fan, who remains seated with his hands over his face during the incident. Several other fans attempted to stop the younger fan from punching, but they failed as the victim was left bloodied. Eventually, the assaulter appears to leave voluntarily with a female companion, who continued to argue with others in the stands as she left.

The Instagram user, whom the Charlotte Observer identified as Warren Carrigan, described what led to the incident in the caption to the video, noting the man who wound up throwing the punches had been standing with his female companion “for the entire game.”

“Words gradually got more and more escalated,” Warren C continued. “There previously was a single mom and her son between us, [but] they left halfway through the 3rd [quarter]. After that, the lid was off. The [older] dude took offense to the couple never sitting down and obstructing his view. The victim telling the dude bro how they’re being jerks and how rude they are for not sitting. The dude bro turns around and calls the victim a “geriatric [expletive]”, “f—–”, and “hick.” Then sucker punches him right in the face.”

“[I] don’t know if he got away or left in handcuffs, but I hope it’s the latter,” Warren C added, noting all parties involved were Panthers fans, so team allegiance did not play into the incident.

The Panthers confirmed to the Observer they are reviewing the incident and have contacted the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, however, as of Friday morning, the victim had not filed a police report.

Fan violence is nothing new at NFL games, although this incident appears to have struck a particular nerve with the public because of the age difference between the two parties, as well as the manner in which the punches were doled out.

Hundreds of Twitter users have retweeted images of the culprit to help authorities identify him, and some believe they have.

If this incident does result in an arrest, it would add to a disturbing trend. According to an analysis by Post reporters Kent Babb and Steven Rich, arrests due to fan violence at NFL games has been trending slightly upward since 2011.

“[In 2015], 6.34 arrests per game were reported leaguewide during the 17 weeks of the regular season,” Babb and Rich reported last October. “In the 10th week of the [2016] season, 126 arrests were made — the second-highest total during the five-year period. That was the most since 129 arrests were made in Week 14 of 2012.”

“If you are concerned about bringing your family to a game, then that is an issue,” Amy Trask, a former executive with the Raiders who has served on the NFL’s security committee, told The Post. “It’s not just an issue for one team; it’s an issue for all 32 teams. The teams know this. The league knows this.”

That may explain the NFL’s quick reaction to Thursday’s incident.

This post will be updated as more information becomes available.

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