Oh my God, things were so close to being so bad here.
Saturday’s Indoor Football League contest between the Massachusetts Pirates and Arizona Rattlers ended in absolute chaos, with a near-brawl erupting between players and fans that left several stars suspended — the bans were announced Monday.
Held in downtown Phoenix at the Footprint Center, the game had major playoff implications for the IFL. But at the close of the fourth quarter, everybody forgot about the game momentarily and zeroed in on almost-Malice at the Palace: Pigskin Edition.
With just 32 seconds left on the clock, Pirates defensive back Leon O’Neal Jr. hopped over the barrier to go into the stands where he confronted a couple of fans who were both yelling and pointing at him. After a few words, O’Neal turned around to go back to the field, however, things only got worse as a scuffle broke out following fans surrounding the Massachusetts star.
WILD scene at end of Rattlers game. 5 Massachusetts players ejected with 32 seconds left. Players going into the stands… If a fan said something — they need to be held accountable, but you can’t charge the crowd in full pads. A kid in the front row looks to be crying?! pic.twitter.com/yqtjRKIjjn
— Cameron Cox (@CamCox12) July 3, 2023
If I’m the commissioner of the Indoor Football League, I’m happy this ended up being just what it was.
It’s wild how close this entire situation got to being pigskin’s equivalent of the Malice at the Palace. All it took was for one swing to happen on either O’Neal Jr.’s or a fan’s part, and then utter insanity would have broken out.
Let’s take a flashback look at 2004’s Malice at the Palace:
Re-watching that Malice at the Palace clip just reminds you how crazy it was, and it almost happened again.
With the exception of the drink being thrown at then-Ron Artest (now known as Metta Sandiford-Artest), this is exactly how things played out in the Pirates-Rattlers game pre-Artest’s punch.
But if either O Neal Jr. or that fan would have thrown that punch, this is the exact chaos that we would’ve had — you already saw a fight break out despite the fact O’Neal Jr. and the fan didn’t even scrap. (RELATED: Straight Comedy! Damian Lillard-To-Heat Trade Is Reportedly On Hold Because Nobody Wants *Clears Throat* Ben Simmons)
Like I said, I’m happy things ended up the way they did if I’m the commissioner.
Talk about dodging a bullet, and a massive stain on the Indoor Football League.