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By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – An Eagles fan known as ‘Sign Man,’ was told to take down his sign at Lincoln Financial Field at yesterday’s game against the Cowboys. The sign, which read “Andy Quit, Your Team Has,” appeared late in the fourth quarter of the 38-23 Eagles loss.
Stadium security requested the sign be taken down, but the Eagles say the request was not made due to its content. “The size of the sign and that he was blocking the view of the fans, ” was the reason, Eagles Senior Vice President of Communications Rob Zeiger told Angelo Cataldi and the 94WIP Morning Show Monday. “We take a lot of steps to ensure that our fans have the best time they can at the game, and we did not do things different, security-wise, than we ever do.”
“We didn’t put it up early in the game, because I didn’t want to, there is a million people,” Sign Man told Cataldi. “The stadium is packed so somebody is going to complain they can’t see. So we waited until the very end, when the stadium was pretty much filing out, so there was nobody behind us at all. So we didn’t block anybody’s view. And my nephew was on each end, and I said, ‘don’t take it down, we’re not taking it down.’”
“What was on the sign we saw, like a lot of other people did, and we actually, when we see signs out there we call up and make sure that we get someone to make a ruling on whether or not they are offensive, or hurtful, or have bad language,” Zeiger said. “We didn’t have any problem with the language that was on there, but the sign was big, the fans were standing on their seats to hold it up, and they were blocking the view of the people behind them. People pay good money for those tickets and I think if you were sitting a couple rows behind them you would have wanted that sign taken down too.”
Later, ‘Sign Man’, who says he’s been a season ticket holder for over four decades, said ushers told him he’d be arrested if he didn’t remove the sign or leave the stadium, so he decided to leave.
“My understanding of what happened is that, we asked him to take it down once, they did,” Zeiger said. “They got back up and did it again, we asked them to take it down and second time, and said, ‘come on guys, how many times do we have to ask this?’ And what I understand ended up happening, was that the people involved said a word that you probably wouldn’t want on the sign, and said we’re out of here and they left. So there were no arrest, there was no ejection.”
Zeiger said that a second sign, reading “Fire Andy, This Is Not Acceptable,” was allowed to be kept up, as it was not blocking anyone’s view. Mike Burnett, who is the owner of that sign, has a different story.
“We had the signs held up for a good portion of the game in the standing room only section,” Burnett said via email. “We had to have taken 500 pictures with fans, and even a few with security. With about three minutes left, we walked them down to the field level. We were holding them up, and a black jacket comes from behind me and tells me he was told by his higher ups that the signs needed to be taken down due to their content. I asked him if he meant his bosses (security) or the Eagles, and he told me it came straight from the top of the Eagles. The next words out of his mouth were ‘and believe me, I agree with both signs.’”
There were also reports that the stadium’s in-house public address announcements and music were louder than usual, and many fans theorized it was to drown out boos from the crowd.
“Well, we had the sound up, but it was for a different reason,” Zeiger said. “We travel obviously to everyone else’s stadium for away games. We take notes on what seems to work at other ball parks and see what we want to apply here. We’ve noticed a good vibe at some places that turn the music up a little louder. And yesterday there was a good vibe out in the parking lot. It was a sunny day, where if you were driving around in your car you would probably turn up the radio up a little bit, so we turned it up a little bit. It was something we were going to do throughout the game, and it didn’t have anything to do with how the game was going.”
Fans called Cataldi’s show on Monday and said they were told by security to remove bags they had on their heads. “That was news to us,” Zeiger said. “We want people to express themselves.”