The NFL Bag Policy- A Fan’s Perspective

I was shocked and appalled when I first heard about the NFL’s decision to implement this new bag policy. I can very clearly remember my first thoughts:

  • Surely they’re kidding… The Hawks gave us season ticket holders little vinyl  12th man backpacks one year… They aren’t going to outlaw those, are they…?
  • What about my Malcolm Smith autographed Seahawks purse? What self-respecting 12th woman goes to the game without her authentic NFL Seahawks purse???
  • But it gets cold in November! (I heard no blankets initially)
  • Um, I have a disease… What about all the crap I have to bring to games…?

Let’s examine these under the bare bulb of reality, shall we?

  • They’re not kidding, and don’t call them Shirley. (sorry!) It doesn’t matter what bags you used in the past. From this point forward, if you want to tote your stuff into a game, you will have to use one of their authentic, NFL sanctioned clear carry bags. (or a one gallon ziplock)
  • No one cares how much you like Malcolm Smith or your snazzy purse. Don’t bring the darn thing to the CLink. Carry it to work to make your co-workers jealous but don’t bring a purse larger than your hand to the game.
  • It does get cold in November. Blankets are still allowed. I hear you can carry them over your shoulder so they don’t fill up your bag. Gives new meaning to the term “wet blanket”
  • If you have a disease that requires dragging crap to the games, you must go to a special disease gate so your crap can be inspected. Even though your crap wasn’t dangerous last year, it might be this year. Remember, it’s for your safety.

Well, I’m all about verification, so I emailed the Commish. Here’s what I got back:

Greetings Asthmagirl,

 It’s [redacted] from the NFL. I work with Commissioner Goodell who asked me to respond to your email.

Please see the link to a website — — that further explains the policy and how it will make going to games even safer and also making getting into the stadium easier. You will see photos of what bags will be permitted. Fans will still be able to bring in the same items as in previous years. We are simply having fans bring them in different bags that will make the screening process safer and faster.

In addition to putting items into a clear bag, women may also bring in a small clutch bag to carry any personal items. If you have any additional concerns with personal or medical items, you may also go to a designated area for screening.  

Thanks again for reaching out to us. Please let me know if you have additional questions or you may also contact your team.

Yes, I have additional questions…. What about my disease crap? I’ll open my bag to let security see it, but I really don’t want to walk through the stadium with my crap on display. And my hip is deteriorating…  and seat cushions are outlawed?

 Hi Asthmagirl,

If your seat cushion is a medical necessity, you will be allowed to bring it in but you must go to the designated area to be screened.

Hey, I’m all about making games EVEN SAFER. So let’s evaluate this: You’ve probably discerned by now that I have funky lungs and a wobbly hip. Luckily, the NFL is sympathetic.

For my lung crap (to allow breathing during fireworks, cold weather, dampness and the occasional attempt to yell, I either need to show it off in the plastic bag throughout the stadium or go to the segregated disease line, where all the other folks with medical necessities will be waiting for me. Kind of points us out to everyone doesn’t it. Something must be wrong with “those people” in “that line.”

For my wobbly hip, which does indeed feel better sitting on a seat cushion for 4 hours rather than a hard plastic chair, I must now have my seat cushions examined. Are they really a danger? Are they safe to sit on? Will you tag them so that I’m not confronted 20 times as I walk through the stadium regarding how I got them through gimp line in the first place? Do you just need to know who has seat cushions in case there’s some sort of zombie seat cushion attack?

I’m not issuing ultimatums regarding whether or not I’ll remain a season ticket holder. I love my Hawks, a lot. But I will say that this policy has precious little to do with public safety and everything to do with ridiculous rules. Either purses and seat cushions are dangerous, or they’re not. If my purse and seat cushion are dangerous in the CLink, how come they aren’t dangerous across the street in Safeco field when I’m watching the Mariners?

I also don’t believe the policy is well thought out.

  • If I can bring in whatever I brought in previous years as [redacted] says, EXCEPT a purse, then really, the policy is discriminating against women…. Or men who carry purses. I’m all about equal opportunity.
  • If, to bring in medically necessary items in a non-see-through bag, I must go through a special medically necessary line, is that discrimination against people with medical necessities?
  • What if the medically necessary line gets to be two blocks long because everyone wants to bring their seat cushions in and claims to have a bad hip? Next year, will the NFL require us to have doctor’s notes for our seat cushions?

Ultimately, I think this is one of the silliest, most illogical policies the NFL has ever come up with. And that’s saying a lot.

I still love my Malcolm Smith autographed purse!

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  • 12thMan_Rising

    Great stuff Diane. The public outcry on this has been pretty large. I think we haven’t heard the end of this story yet. He’s hoping the league backs off a little.

    also, is it possible that I’m equally impressed by the fact that the commissioner’s office actually wrote you back, and by the arrogance inherent in their response?

    • Asthmagirl

      I was surprised when they wrote me back the first time with what appeared to be a standard response. I was shocked when they responded to my reply about seat cushions. It’s still illogical that my NFL seat cushions are dangerous unless they’re medically necessary but then I must go through a segregated line. Working for a disability organization, I’m really surprised that they’re defending this policy.

      • ricefield

        I guess I’m more cynical about this move. Is this a way to sell more cushions, blankets and other concessions at the game? It reminds me of water bottles at the airport. Stating safety is the reason is a mom and apple pie type of answer. I wonder if this means that fewer personnel are needed to check bags. If it weren’t so hard to get season tickets I’d think a boycott might have an effect.

        As for Mr NASCAR, I looked up the Sprint Car schedule. February /March in Florida, Arizona and Nevada. 1 week in Tenn. then California and Texas. His cold nights are where snowbirds go to to avoid winter.

        • Brian Lamb

          If you’re referring to me as “MR. NASCAR”, while I’m flattered you would refer to me as much, you missed the reason i brought up the topic.

          NASCAR implemented a similar type of restriction policy following the attacks of September 11th. Afterwards, you weren’t allowed to bring in large coolers and bags. While most of this was implemented to keep the aisles clear, it was also to expedite the average fan from the time they stepped foot onto the premise until they safely reached their assigned seat.

          The NFL and NASCAR aren’t the only organizations to adopt this type of policy. Schools across the country are doing so as well. Some students are permitted from carrying backpacks, while others are only allowed to carry clear plastic backpacks(like the NFL implemented) or vinyl mesh see through bags.

          What many of those have overlooked, in my opinion because the author didn’t do a clear enough job specifying, is that fans are still allowed to bring in blankets and ponchos. Sure, you have to remove them from your bag when you proceed through the security line, but you are still able to put it back into your bag.

          But here’s what is, in my opinion, astonishing. Most NFL stadiums aren’t able to expedite the security check process due to a lack of security terminals. Prior to the 2012 season, the NFL mandated a new security wanding policy, which saw the wait times for the average fan increase tremendously. Maybe not at CenturyLink, but I doubt that the average fan visited more than one stadium.

          Several stadiums across the country, such as Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, have expanded their security gates to speed up the wait. Other stadiums, especially those built more than 20 or 30 years ago, weren’t designed to accommodate the flood of fans we see today.

          It’s just odd to me that people would comment and get upset over a topic without reading the full policy, but rather taking what the author has written.

  • Brian Lamb

    I do not understand all of the fuss.

    NASCAR implemented a similar system following September 11th, and there was some blow back, but not at this level.

    At stadiums across the country, fans are waiting in line thirty-minutes to an hour before they can gain access inside. These new rules are meant to cut that time in half, if not more. Instead of bringing in an over-sized bag, you’re now limited to bringing in the essentials for a three-hour event.

    It’s not just about safety, it’s also about fast-tracking fans into the stadium so they can enjoy the event.

    • KP

      NASCAR is not run during rain and snow and cold of night. Imagine a Monday night game in December in a cold city, and you can’t bring a bag for your extra hat, gloves, blanket, rain poncho, etc. They were already inspecting our bags, no way anyone could get in a pressure cooker or large gun.

      • Brian Lamb

        NASCAR is, in fact, run during the cold of night at times. You are obviously missing the point of the new changes. It’s not just about safety, it’s also to speed up the process of getting fans into their seats.

        However, large organizations that deal with a high number of individuals through a specific area (airports, sporting venues, schools) must be proactive. They can’t sit back and not make changes.

        I wasn’t going to be the insensitive individual to highlight a recent tragedy, but since you clearly have, I will as well.

        It didn’t take much for two individuals to attack people at a marathon. While you may not be able to carry a large object that houses a bomb into a stadium, there still exists individuals that will try.

        While there is a slight inconvenience between a smaller clear bag and the usual backpack you may choose to carry into a stadium, the system is still there to get fans into their seats quicker; to speed up the process of security personnel to check the bags.

  • laphroaig

    Maybe season ticket holders should be issued lockers somewhere inside the security perimeter, where they could store stuff that’s already passed inspection? It’s stupid to have to have you seat cushion checked each and every time…