He wears a wig, paints his face like a helmet, dons shoulder pads and screams until his throat feels like sandpaper when his favorite team is on the field.
So you can imagine his feeling after being kicked out during Sunday’s game, missing a come-from-behind win, but not for being drunk, violent or disorderly. No, he says security was called to remove him because — get this — he was standing too much.
According to Stipe, “excessive standing” has become a bit of a no-no at Cleveland Browns Stadium over the last few seasons. Last year, he was also scolded for the offense and three sheriff’s deputies were sent to meet him outside the bathroom to tell him to use his seat more.
“We do not stand all the time,” the 35-year-old explained, referring to the as many as 12 friends and family who share season tickets. “We stand on first down, we stand at the beginning of this game, we stand at kickoff. We stand. We are standers, but we’re also courteous to other people. If somebody says, ‘Hey man, will you sit down?’ Sure, I will love to sit down for you. No problem.”
He said the head of security told him last year that fans can only stand during third and fourth downs and whenever there is a stoppage in the game, like a time out. That doesn’t sit well with the South Amherst resident, who has been sitting in Row 10 of the Dawg Pound for the last 25 seasons the Browns have played, but he tries to abide by the rules as best he can.
“I hate the people who sit down at a game,” he said. “It’s not that I try to stand and (expletive) everyone off. I want everyone to stand so that when we’re on national TV we don’t look like lumps on a log.”
His brother, Matt Stipe, who was also kicked out Sunday (he said security didn’t like when he complained about his brother’s treatment), said the clampdown on standing that day came early when the Browns got a first down. He said an usher ran down to their section, yelling at everyone to sit, even though the scoreboard told everyone to “Get Loud, Make Noise.”
Rob Stipe got his first warning to park his keister during a third down in that same first quarter, but said everyone behind him was also standing.
In the middle of the third quarter, Stipe said he was scolded again for standing, but this time it was during a TV timeout. He was asked to leave for what he learned from one of the stadium employees was a new policy enacted for this season that after the first warning, offenders are removed from the stadium.
Neal Gulkis, vice president of media relations for the team, said the policy on “excessive standing” can be somewhat subjective.
Security only becomes involved if a fan complains. He said personnel aren’t out scanning the crowd for excessive standers.
According to the “Fan Code of Conduct” on the Browns’ official website, a fan can be removed from a game for excessive standing. The policy explained: “Please be aware that when you stand, you block the view of the fans behind you. We do not wish to diminish your ability to cheer and enjoy the game; however, your continued standing can interfere with others’ ability to enjoy the game from their seats.”
The superfan also missed McCoy’s spectacular drive that ended in a game-winning touchdown with less than a minute left because he was filling out a complaint form.
“Somebody had to tell me what happened,” he said.
He said he wants a meeting with Browns President Mike Holmgren to inform him what is happening at the stadium and for a concrete excessive standing rule, so fans like him will know what to do. He said he hasn’t made a decision on whether to attend any more home games, but his brother, Matt, said he might be sitting at least the next one out.
“Why spend any more money on a team that doesn’t want me to be there? That doesn’t want me to cheer for them?” Matt Stipe said.
Contact Adam Wright at 329-7155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.