A highly publicized excerpt from the nationally aired press conference on July 29, 2015…
“I was wrong to put my faith in the league.” — Robert Kraft
Those were the words of Bob Kraft regarding the 4 game suspension of quarterback Tom Brady for the upcoming 2015 NFL season. Apparently I have something in common with the owner of the New England Patriots. With a reported net worth of 4.3 billion, I can assure you of one thing. It’s not our financial status.
Since 2011, I have continually petitioned NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL ownership/management to explicitly warn their fans that…
LEGITIMATE emergency stadium evacuation orders would NEVER come from their personal cell phones.
Reason being, if something like this happened, it’s almost certainly a malicious hoax designed to create a human stampede. There’s one other minor possibility I suppose. It’s the notion of someone trying to evacuate a stadium solely for their own personal amusement. Regardless, either scenario presents an exceptionally dire outcome – an unplanned, unanticipated evacuation. Knowledge of this matter is common sense, public safety information grounded in the conceptual nature of shouting “fire” in a crowded theater. It’s about the prospect of weaponizing a stampede. Nothing more, nothing less.
If it’s deemed absolutely necessary to stage an official evacuation, no competent incident commander would ever try to contact fans individually via their personal mobile devices. That’s just not how it works. When initiating a stadium evacuation, protocol dictates using the public address in tandem with the video monitors. You provide a clear, concise, unified directive. You do not play texting games with large, confined crowds.
So here’s the problem. Not only does the NFL refuse to take any significant action. They won’t even acknowledge the conflict itself exists. The fact that every stadium is filled with 50,000 – 100,000 active cell phones capable of transmitting false information seems to allude them. Of course, the entire NFL isn’t that aloof. Nor is this about a mesmerizing level of incompetence. So considering what’s at stake, why won’t they be forthcoming?
There are several reasons the NFL is unwilling to acknowledge the subject. They’re all pretty obvious: foreseeable litigation, plausible deniability and the lose-lose proposition. Also, the NFL would never make a voluntary, specific admission about any scenario which might render a stadium unsafe. The general consensus regarding security is to focus on the more preventable, generic safety issues (vulgar language, excessive alcohol consumption, banned items, etc.). The prospect of cell phones being used as weapons doesn’t quite make the list. Nobody’s even permitted to broach the subject. And don’t even get me started on the problems presented by recreational drones. This video (youtube.com/watch?v=FI–wFfipvA) from Clinton, Connecticut (roughly 100 miles away from Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA) surfaced on the internet less than 2 weeks ago.
So here’s the question we must ask. Does the NFL have a moral obligation to divulge this information (stadium evac orders don’t come from cell phones)? I believe they do. And here’s why. If it was the prospect of a singular stampede… well, that’s one thing. But there exists a doomsday scenario called a “dominipede,” a reference to multiple, simultaneous human stampedes.
A large number of games overlap the same Sunday time frame (1pm – 4pm). Hypothetically, if there was an “artificially generated stampede” in just one stadium, it’s reasonable to assume that fans in other stadiums would receive real-time news via their personal cell phones. At this juncture, being present in ANY stadium would likely be viewed as an incredibly undesirable location. The notion of hearing about a unique “black swan” event, particularly from people whom you deem trustworthy, could conceivably set off a cascade or domino effect as fans wish to abruptly exit the premises. It generally takes a minimum of 22-25 minutes to satisfactorily evacuate an NFL stadium. However, the variable of widespread panic renders this aspect irrelevant. Good news travels fast. But I assure you, bad news travels faster.
Historically, most stadium stampedes worldwide have resulted in casualties near the hundred range. Assuming a dominipede played itself out, it could conceivably impact a maximum of 10 stadiums. I believe 1,000 deaths and somewhere in the range of 5,000 – 10,000 injuries is a realistic tally. Naturally, this is not an acceptable outcome.
Since you cannot mitigate a human stampede, the only reasonable course of action is to treat fans with the dignity and respect they deserve. Blunt honesty is the only option here. You simply make a moral commitment to be forthcoming. How you ask? A 3-5 second looped message over the public address or an unambiguous warning on the back of ticket stubs would be an excellent starting point. A heightened level of situational awareness is paramount. Regardless, we’re dealing with an inconvenient truth. You either tell people or you don’t. There is no grey area.
Now faced with this momentous decision, the NFL has chosen the path of “deliberately oblivious inaction.” While I understand, and to some degree even sympathize with their dilemma, there is a moral imperative to divulge the truth — legit stadium evac orders would never be delivered via your personal cell phone. It’s just that simple. Sometimes I think a fifth grader should raise these concerns. Perhaps they’d gain a little more traction. I do know one thing though. Relying on the federal government, Commissioner Roger Goodell or any of the 32 billionaire owners is a recipe for disaster. They will never willingly challenge the status quo.
So when Patriots owner Robert Kraft gets all choked up over the deflated ball “scandal” and says things like “I was wrong to put my faith in the league.” Well, let’s just say it resonates.
When Commissioner Roger Goodell says, “My job is to protect the integrity of the NFL and to make sure the games are as safe as possible.” Well, let’s just say it reverberates.
When not a single person employed by the entire NFL is willing to even remotely consider any potential downside regarding the wireless hyper-connectivity in every NFL stadium…
When the most important technological considerations are the ability to post selfies, check fantasy football stats and receive real-time scoring updates…
When all major decisions appear exclusively driven by revenue, profit and the bottom line…
Let’s just say that if you take an objective overview, you’ll quickly come to the conclusion that… well, something just ain’t right. When the “professionals” refuse to acknowledge existing facts and negative variables… when the “experts” decline to address plainly observable vulnerabilities… when the “security” purposely avoids contingency planning…
Well it’s just a matter of time before someone tests the cracks in the system.