If no news is good news, then Sunday's drubbing of the Eagles was very good news indeed for the Bills' security team.
After the game against the Jets on the previous Sunday night, where 16 people were arrested and dozens more were thrown out of Ralph Wilson Stadium for fighting, the Eagles game was a picture of what an NFL outing should be. Police agencies reported almost no major problems as fans enjoyed a one-sided Bills victory on a glorious early-autumn afternoon.
For the Bills organization, which has taken some heat over its no-container policy aimed at cutting down on alcohol-related rowdyism, the wholesome atmosphere in the stands provided evidence that efforts to create a family atmosphere are working. And, keep in mind, this was during a game that essentially was over at halftime. That's exactly the situation that often leads to fights in the stands as some people (it would be inaccurate to call them fans) lose interest in a one-sided game and begin to look for and cause trouble.
Sunday's victory against the small number of those who cause most of the trouble was not an accident. The highly visible array of security personnel in their fluorescent yellow-green jackets creates a deterrent. Just like a police car in your rear-view mirror is a persuasive argument not to speed, the sight of large numbers of security people in proximity to every section is a powerful deterrent to troublemakers.
So why was security so successful Sunday and not the week before during the Jets game? The reason is that security is an incredibly daunting problem for night games.
A minority of people with a case of arrested development equate night games with drinking. And we're not talking a few beers before the game, we're talking excessive drinking that begins hours before the game and continues right up till kickoff.
Short of making everybody take a Breathalyzer exam before entering The Ralph, keeping drunks out of the game is a difficult proposition. Security personnel make only a visual judgment about whether people walking through the stadium gates are intoxicated, and if they are visibly drunk, they are denied entrance. But that's a difficult call, and highly unlikely to stop all alcohol-related troubles.
Nevertheless, the Bills have demonstrated a real commitment toward making a trip to the stadium what it should be -- a place to enjoy NFL football with friends and family in a congenial atmosphere. And if that's the measure of success, then the organization racked up a "W" in the stands that was, in some respects, just as important as the victory earned on the field.