CLEVELAND — A fan who threw a plastic water bottle at Browns owner Jimmy Haslam during Sunday's game will be permanently banned from FirstEnergy Stadium, the team confirmed Tuesday afternoon.
Video shot by NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero shows Haslam on the sidelines as the New York Jets scored what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown in a shocking 31-30 Cleveland loss. As receiver Garrett Wilson trots into the end zone, the bottle can be seen flying at Haslam and appearing to strike him somewhere on the thigh, with Haslam then pointing toward the individual who threw it.
3News later obtained a report from the Cleveland Division of Police that identified the accused bottle-thrower as 51-year-old Jeffrey Miller, of Rocky River, using surveillance footage. Multiple officers on scene apparently had to detain Miller as he attempted to leave the stadium, and one wrote the suspect "appeared to be intoxicated" at the time. While Miller told investigators he "never hit the field," he was arrested and charged with assault, disorderly conduct, and failure to comply.
The Browns released the following statement to WKYC:
"Fan, player and staff safety is the top priority in our building and behavior that puts others in danger will not be tolerated. Luckily no one was harmed in this incident and as a standard practice, we've cooperated with law enforcement authorities and security video footage of the object being thrown is in the appropriate hands. We will have no further comment on this matter."
Fans certainly expressed their displeasure during the game, with many booing as Cleveland blew a 13-point lead with less than two minutes to go. The organization has seen similar incidents over the years, particularly in 2001, when hoards of fans threw objects onto the playing surface after a controversial officiating decision helped lead to a 15-10 defeat against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The infamous fiasco became forever known as "Bottlegate."
Just three years ago, another person in the stands poured beer on Tennessee defensive back Logan Ryan after multiple Titans players jumped into the Dawg Pound following an interception return for a score. The club also reported banning that fan, although controversy later arose as to whether they had indeed punished the right person.
There was also another incident in the NFL just this past weekend, when a Raiders fan allegedly hit Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray in the face with an open hand following Arizona's overtime win in Las Vegas. Police are currently investigating.