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Cory's Corner: Fan fights have to stop

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Cory's Corner: Fan fights have to stop

This is a story about bloodshed.

And it’s also a story about human nature.

Sam Whitehorn is a lifelong Packers fan and unfortunately, family and friends believe that he was nearly killed for wearing a Packers beanie atop his head.

“I was at work when Sam was attacked,” said Sam’s girlfriend of two-and-a-half years, Bridget Kitson. “In one way I am grateful that I was not there to witness such an awful thing because it would have most likely traumatized me forever. On the other hand, I feel guilty that I wasn’t there because maybe I could have intervened or been able to positively ID the person who did this to him.”

After last week’s heart-wrenching playoff loss to the Cardinals, Whitehorn, 26, got into an argument with three Seahawks fans outside a Portland bar.

What happened next may have changed his future forever. 

“Police and eye-witnesses say that Sam was not violent during this exchange,” Kitson said. “It ended with Sam being knocked out and hitting his head on the concrete curb of the sidewalk. The men then ran away and someone called 911. Sam was rushed to the ER and then quickly transferred to the ICU. Within a couple hours he was in surgery. He is very lucky to be alive.”

The NFL plus alcohol and violence are a cocktail that has gotten increasingly toxic over the years. It has mutated from stadium aisles, bathrooms and concourses to parking lots and even sports bars.

Unfortunately, I don’t see it getting any better.

Fights are spawning all over the place and fans are too eager to spout their machismo laced with their team colors. However, being a fan doesn’t mean leaving someone on the pavement bleeding out of his or her ear.

“Part of his skull is still out, sitting in the fridge, and will be replaced in a few weeks when the doctors are sure that the swelling has reduced enough,” Kitson said. “The part of the brain that was injured has to do with speech, so that will probably be one of his bigger hurdles along the way, in addition to general rehab from a traumatic brain injury.”

Yet, just when you’re about to turn your back on humanity, you’ll be reassured to know that over $40,000 has been raised thanks to Sam’s GoFundMe Recovery Fund. The initial goal was $15,000.

“I can’t tell you how many messages of support I’ve gotten from Green Bay fans, 49ers fans, and yes, Seahawks fans as well,” said Kitson. “Many NFL fans want to spread the message that while friendly rivalry is OK, violence is not. We are completely floored and thankful beyond measure. I’m brought to tears just thinking about it.”

Kitson has spent an innumerable amount of time at the hospital by her fellow Portland State University classmate’s side. She isn’t sure the exact timetable for Sam’s recovery — or if a full recovery will ever appear. But she knows that this kind of cruelty has to stop.

“I think what’s important is to spread the message of non-violence and I definitely think that the NFL should be involved in spreading that message,” she said.

The Packers have reached out to Sam and his family and are offering their support.

“He may never return to the Sam we once knew, but I have faith that his strong, intelligent, silly self will continue to thrive and he will recover,” Kitson said.

This is a call to action. Yes there is heightened adrenaline when it comes to the NFL and it's fans, but that doesn't justify nearly killing someone. 

As NFL fans, sports fans, heck, as the human race, this kind of violence is senseless and there's no place for it. 


To donate to Sam Whitehorn's GoFundMe Recovery Fund, click here:




Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (29) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Dave Tigner's picture

How unbelievably ridiculous! Sam please recover we are praying for you and yous

Nick Perry's picture

First and foremost good luck to Sam and a speedy recovery. My prayers are with you and your family and loved ones.

I understand last weekend as Packers fans filed out of the Stadium, Cardinals fans started throwing bottles, food, whatever they could throw at Packers fans. Could you imagine what might have happened had they not gotten the lucky deflection for a TD and lost?

My Family is always concerned if I go to a Packers Game when they visit the West Coast. I'm not a quiet Packers Fan and stupidly I fear no one in the Stadium. It's OUTSIDE the Stadium where these cowards attack you, normally it's 4 or 5 of them against one or two of you. It's for this reason I didn't attend the Packers when the played the 49ers, Raiders, and Cardinals this year and that's a God Damn shame!! I did get to see my beloved Packers play in San Diego in 2003 and 2011and again in the 2012 exhibition game we lost Desmond Bishop but that's been it.

I don't know what the solutions are but Alcohol is ALWAYS the biggest contributing factor. I had a customer who went to the 2008 Championship Game against the Giants. They were from New York and were BLOWN AWAY with how king Packers Fans were to them, even after that crushing defeat. I guess you can't teach Midwest Manners and Values into just anyone.


dobber's picture

I haven't been to any Packer road games, but I've been to several Badgers road games and have found that the home fans are almost always poorer after a win than they are after a loss...flying objects of any shape, weight and size. I've never understood that.

Packer_Pete's picture

Midwest Manners yeah.... I have lived in different countries on different continents and have lived in 4 different states in different parts of the USA. So I think I have a pretty good perspective on this, and from my experience I can tell you there are good and bad people, average ones, eccentric ones, idiots and non idiots etc everywhere. To narrow it down that you find a difference in different parts of the country is naive IMHO. It is probably that you have lived in the Midwest for most of your life and therefore 'fit in' there. But personally I did not make the experience that people behave better in the Midwest than anywhere else...

Tarynfor12's picture

Human nature is beastly and even more than that of the world's animals. Having the ability to reason makes it even more so as reasons for the acts of cruelty are, right or wrong, come from reasoning.

lebowski's picture

just a damn shame

marpag1's picture

It's hard to talk about this frankly without appearing to be a heartless beast. For the record, I have nothing but good wishes and prayers for anyone who has been hurt. But this is not an NFL issue.

We certainly don't have enough information from the article to really know what happened, and I'm not going to even begin to speculate. But we do know that this incident did not take place at an NFL venue, or even at a bar, but outside of a bar on public property. Heck, the Seahawk fans did not even have their team in the game that supposedly brought about this fight.

What is the NFL supposed to do... police the streets in every major city of the country?

The NFL didn't cause this and the NFL certainly isn't going to solve it. If people who like to bash each other's brains in are somehow prevented from fighting about sports, then they will just take up fighting about the viscosity of motor oil or the health benefits of bran muffins. It's them, not the sport.

dobber's picture

"We certainly don't have enough information from the article to really know what happened, and I'm not going to even begin to speculate. "

Too true. For all we know, the victim was the instigator, but nobody deserves this fate regardless of the nature of a verbal altercation. We've all seen--and likely some of us here have been--the sort of person who goes to a rival's page and likes to stir things up (we can name those people who pop in here just to tick off the regulars). It's a mindset--the "I'm going to poke a bear through the bars of its cage with a long pointy stick...just because I can" mentality--I don't understand, but some people relish it. Whether this is the issue or not, and whether the victim is the instigator or not, people need to have more self control and more common decency than this.

Julie Nana's picture


The nfl doesn't need to personally police every venture, of course, but the nfl can and should certainly speak on the subject, as the organization has on domestic violence and poor sportsmanship for instance, issues happening within the organization. Now take it outside the organization to the fans. Spread a good message of healthy rivalry and not violence. Period.

marpag1's picture

Fine, I have no problem with the NFL doing that. But let me ask you. Do you really think it will help? Even a little bit? Are those two guys in Portland going to say, "Gosh, I'd really like to beat the shit out of this A-hole who is cheering for the other team... but the NFL told me not to?"


Bearmeat's picture


I went to the Matt Flynn led game against the Pats in 2010 with my wife and father in law (a die hard Pats fan). They live in Vermont and he had never been to a game. So I bought 3 tickets for Christmas. I couldn't afford the lower level seats so we were way up in the end zone nosebleeds. Let me tell you - there were some NUTS up there!

GB looked better than NE for most of the game. So I was cheering for my team along with my wife, and a couple drunk guys seriously asked me to fight them. I said: "No, I'm not going to fight you. My wife and father in law are here. He's a Pats fan and we just want to have a good time. How about you take our picture instead?"

Eventually I defrayed the situation and by the end of the game they were acting like I was their best buddy. Probably in no small part because the Pats won. But stil. Absolutely stupid and nutso.

NashvilleCheesehead's picture

This has happened to me twice, although both times it was diffused before it got this bad -- Once in Houston and once here where I live here in Nashville. Sad to say, but no more road games for me.


cheddarhead's picture

First and foremost my hopes and prayers are with u.
I'm a Packers fan In Minneapolis. I go to the bar sometimes when they are not televised.
I've gotten used to the cheering when the opposing team scores. I feel that it is true jealousy. I ignore the jeers and packers suck talk. But it takes two to tango. Don't get me wrong here I have a lot of viking fans as friends and it's just good old fashioned jeers in fun.
But theres always a few that spoil it for the rest of us. Above and beyond it's only a football game. Be careful among people u don't know one of them might b those ass holes who can't take a joke , add alcohol and wallah.
I've been to lambeau and I have not witnessed any violence. But I have at vikings packers games at the metrodome. People getting ejected or the throwing of objects.

Portland Mark's picture

I live in Portland where this happened and the reports are that they are not sure if this had anything to do with his Packer colors. I do wear my Packer gear regularly and often hear shouts of "Go Packers!" Still. I wouldn't wear my Packer gear to a road game. I have been to two games in GB and have always witnessed fans with visiting colors treated well.

Ferrari Driver's picture

I think the NFL needs to curtail/stop the sale of beer at halftime. Probably better to stop it all together, but the money hungry NFL will resist giving up the six bucks they get for a cup of beer.

I do go to the Packer games at San Diego, San Francisco, and LA when they used to have them and haven't had any problems. I don't try to aggravate anyone and I'm likely big and strong enough not to be picked on by most individuals.

egbertsouse's picture

That's the reason I spent big bucks to build a man cave with a big screen TV. To avoid the yahoos, meatballs and hooligans. Also, at my age I have to pee within 10 seconds of drinking a beer.

Irish_Cheesehead's picture

Amen to that - not to mention the beer is a lot cheaper! I rarely go to a game anymore because there is always some horse's arse sitting near me. Last game was vs. Steelers AT LAMBEAU. Some jerk decked out in Steelers gear sitting three rows back was heckling everyone around him, cheering when Packers players got hurt, making lewd comments, etc. I've also attended a game in Pittsburgh (my buddy is a Steelers fan so we went together) and was taunted and cursed at. Don't get me wrong, the majority of fans in Pittsburgh were very welcoming, but there are always that few that get your blood boiling. It costs too much to go to a game today to put up with that sh**. I'll stay home and watch on my 60" flat screen, thanks.

Dan Stodola's picture

This is what's wrong w/ this country. Everyone needs or wants a higher power to regulate them. The NFL can't regulate fan behavior. Sure take the tickets from them press changes... Whatever... It won't work!

See Cory it come down to personal responsibility! Ever hear of it? The NFL and teams aren't going to shut down beer sales or other measures. It just costs them money. The only solution is for fans to decide for themselves that they won't get drunk and drive home or start a fight.

But this is why you write for free instead of getting a job where you get paid to write.

Sheesh... What a pile of manure.

Cory Jennerjohn's picture

Dan, I never said that NFL teams should stop selling beer. I believe I said it would never stop.

I agree that anything will always come down to personal responsibility. But at the same time, if there can be a way to make bystanders more assertive to stop something like this, then we are doing some good I feel.

Take care.

Jersey Al's picture

Yes, you are a pile of manure Dan, or Stroh. Cya!

DrealynWilliams's picture

**Jersey Shore fist pumps**


Packer_Pete's picture

Why personally attack the writer of an article? Sheesh....

jasonperone's picture

I'm speculating here but Stroh, and let's be honest, that's who it is, has some big-time issues from his past or at home and tries to find validation here. He's a Packers fan much like the rest of us but he has to find a way to one-up others and try to be the smartest guy in the room. No one likes a know-it-all and the shtick gets old fast. It's one thing to disagree and have a strong opinion but he has very little respect. What's interesting is that you'll see him telling others about self talk and trying to be mentally right but he's the poster child for a guy who's not right. Water your own lawn before you worry about the neighbor's.

Bye for now until he's back under a new alias.....

As for everyone else, and I can only speak for myself, but we have an amazing group of readers and fans here. Please think before you click submit. It's a sport and meant for entertainment. Nothing you read here should prompt the kind of crap that Strohdola spews.

GVPacker's picture

Well said Jason! My guess is Stroh or Dan had his lunch money stolen at school on a regular basis and has grown himself some big balls when he sits behind his keyboard. Silly Dork.

4thand1's picture

Sure glad I didn't go to Detroit with my buddy who is a lolions fan. Can you imagine leaving Ford field after the hail Mary? I wouldn't wear team colors at a road game that's for sure. To many horror stories like this are all to frequent.

Viking Fan's picture

This breaks my heart. I'm a Viking fan, and hate to see when people take being a fan of sports too far. I pray this young man makes a complete recovery! We all enjoy the playful, yet sometimes harsh banter back and forth. This is completely uncalled for. Sports are meant to be fun. They are not about creating senseless violence. Again I can't put into words how much it breaks my heart seeing a person hurt so bad for any reason. I hope I speak for the majority of Vikings Fans as I post this as well. I actually learned of this story on a Vikings fan page. There were quite a few well wisher sending prayers his way. Good luck Mr. Whitehorn!

Lisa Williams's picture

I'm a packers fan myself so we are family. U are in my thoughts and prayers. God bless.


Denise Chanterelle's picture

I live in Portland during the summer months, (grew up in Milwaukee), and have been following this story very closely. The local press has released photos of the 3 suspects that were taken inside a convenience store prior to the beating, and the word is out from the police to please call them if anyone can id these 3 men.

It's horrible and disgusting what happened and is not what Portland is about. There's a ton of Packer fans here as well as Seahawks fans, most of whom are respectful towards each other, but obviously not all. I hope these thugs get caught and are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Aloha.

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"I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious."
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