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How to get arrested at an NFL game

The trend for arrests at NFL games is rising. What factors lead to the most arrests and which teams’ fans have the most infractions?

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

NFL games are hot beds for questionably legal activity and as such, there’s a large police presence at every game. When there are as many people in one location as there are at NFL games, coupled with the emotions that come with a game and the alcohol associated with sporting events, what would you expect?

The Washington Post published an article about fan arrests at NFL games, filled with tons of really good data supplied by 29 of the 31 NFL cities. The only two cities whose authorities failed to provide data for the article were that of Cleveland and New Orleans. For their research, The Post also visited stadiums and interviewed more than two dozen NFL and law enforcement officials.

If you have attended an NFL game, you know the formula. Tailgaters start quite early, hours before the games begin, and carry their “celebration” into the stadiums. For most, this is an enjoyable event, for some it begins to kick up trouble.

So what factors weigh into more NFL arrests per game? The data suggests that who teams are playing against as well as when they are playing makes a real difference. Division games played at night yield the most arrests, which makes sense. Add on a very close game where the home team loses and you have the recipe for high arrests.(Sound like the Bengals vs Steelers Wild Card game from January to anyone?)

The teams that top the list for the least arrests are the Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. All of these teams average less than one arrest per game. The teams that lead the league in arrests are:

  1. Chargers 24.6 - arrests per game
  2. Giants 22.5 - arrests per game
  3. Jets 21.5 - arrests per game
  4. Raiders 17.8 - arrests per game
  5. Steelers 16.8 - arrests per game

It was noted though, that even though the numbers were high for some of these teams, it could be the result of their “zero tolerance” policies.

The trend across the league though is that arrest numbers are universally rising. Some stadiums are falling under the NFL’s radar as cities to watch and monitor, based an annual league report of how each team handled security, including “grades” for each organization: a “1” was the best score, and a “4” amounted to a failing grade. Cincinnati is among the teams the league felt needed to do better with security.

Additionally, Cincinnati, Oakland, San Francisco, Cleveland and Philadelphia are all among the teams the league reportedly has on their radar when it comes to arrests per game.

Among the trends The Post noted were the amount of arrests dependent on the final score. Wins by 1-14 points average 6.3 arrests. When teams win by more than 14, the number of arrests per game averages out to 5.4. Tie games yield 6 arrests per game. Losses by 1-14 points average 7.6 arrests per game and losses by more than 14 see 6.8 arrests per game, on average.

One of the most popular places to get arrested at an NFL game is in the parking lot. According to The Post, the NFL said there were nearly 500 arrests in stadium lots last season, a 6 percent increase over 2014.

The article also discusses the grading scale used by the league for each franchise. Some franchises receive high marks for their attempt to curb the arrest trend, others (including Cincinnati) continually fall short of where they should be.

If you plan to take the family to a game, early afternoon, non-division games would be the ones most likely to not land you in jail, or, at a minimum, the least likely games where you’ll see something else handcuffed.