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Mexico: Laser aimed at NFL quarterback during game

A green laser was aimed multiple times at the helmet and face of Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler, during a National Football League game played November 21 2016 in Mexico City. Here are two photos taken of the same play, from different vantage points:

Brock Osweiler laser 02

Brock Osweiler laser 01

The first incident happened near the end of the second quarter of play. When the game resumed after halftime, the laser was again aimed onto the field about two minutes into the third quarter, on running back Lamar Miller:

Lamar Miller laser 01

According to analyst John Harris of HoustonTexans.com, “The Texans security spent nearly the entire first half trying to find the culprit in the North end zone. There were state and city police in that end zone for most of the rest of the half. I don’t know if they ever found anyone….”

After the game, Osweiler was asked about the laser interference: “There were multiple times I saw a green laser coming from the stands. There were a couple of times it definitely hit me in the eye. And it was very noticeable…. Certainly, having a laser zoomed in on your eyeball definitely affects how you play.”

Osweiler went on to say “I've never experienced a laser being shined in my eyeball during a football game, let alone a professional football game in the National Football League. So, I think that was certainly disappointing. At the end of the day, that's not why we lost the game. That was just one small factor, but it certainly affected how I was playing."

The final score was 27 for the Oakland Raiders and 20 for the Houston Texans.

Texans coach Bill O’Brien said the next day, “It doesn't even enter your mind that someone would bring a laser into the game and point it at one of your players. That wasn't something I was really thinking about after the game. Now having thought about it a little bit more, I think that's terrible…. I'm not sure what you can do about it. I'm not a security person. I just think that's terrible that someone would actually think about doing that.”

Eric Gomez of ESPN.com wrote:

“Much was made of the security measures being implemented ahead of the Raiders-Texans game in Mexico City, with some comparing the security levels to that of a Super Bowl. Despite that, one fan made his way through countless police checkpoints and metal detectors with the laser pointer, an item often present in other sporting events that Estadio Azteca usually hosts.

“It is even common to see vendors selling the pointers mere blocks away from the stadium. In recent years, they've become part of the vending landscape prior to a big event. They are on par with scalpers, vendors selling jerseys -- both authentic and fake -- and those with carts full of street food.

“Though Liga MX -- Mexico's top soccer league -- and its international governing body, FIFA, expressly forbid fans from interfering from the game, use of the pointers is difficult to enforce at the domestic level. Oft-times in soccer, the devices are directed at opposing goal keepers or the referees.

“However, both Mexican fans and journalists watching the contest expressed their concern with how the laser could affect the NFL and other leagues from coming back to the country. Prior to the game, NFL Mexico director Arturo Olivé was clear about things needing to happen flawlessly in order to maintain the attraction. ‘Everything needs to go off perfectly. The teams need to leave here being very happy about what happened in Mexico,’ he said,
according to El País.”

While NFL security was looking into the incident, as of December 9 2016 the laser perpetrator had not been identified or caught.

A similar incident happened October 5 2014. A laser pointer was shined on a Buffalo Bills kicker just before an unsuccessful 50-yard field goal attempt. The perpetrator boasted of his laser use on Twitter, leading authorities to him. He was banned by the NFL from the stadium (Detroit’s Ford Field) for life and was charged by the city of Detroit with disorderly conduct, which carries a $50 fine. Also, his father’s season tickets were revoked for the final five 2014 regular-season games played at Ford Field.

From Bleacher Report, Comcast SportsNet, chron.com, Houston Chronicle and Sports Illustrated. For other stories of laser misuse during football games, click on our Football tag.