A Texas Arena Football League game turned into chaos and violence that spilled into the stands on Saturday, evoking shades of Malice at the Palace.
The incident happened at the end of an interleague game between Dallas Prime of the Texas United Football League and the West Texas Warbirds of the Arena Football Association at Ector County Coliseum in Odessa. CBS7’s Jackob Brandenburg shared video of the fight that broke out between the players at multiple locations along the end zone lobby. A staff member who tried to intervene found himself sandwiched between two players exchanging blows (:18, below).
On the other side of the field, a man in the stands picked up a folding chair and headbutted a player standing below him (:37). Another man took the chair away from the assailant before a player entered the stands to hit him. This drew more fans and players into the fight before the tensions eventually subsided.
The video shows approximately two minutes of the incident. CBS7 reports that the fight actually lasted over 10 minutes. According to the report, the Ector County Sheriff’s Department made no arrests that night and no injuries were initially reported.
Warbirds Head Coach Tate Smith told the Odessa American that ejections of players from each team sparked the fight and things escalated as the players interacted en route to their respective locker rooms.
“The officials told us that if there were any problems on the pitch, the players would be sent off,” Smith said. “That’s what happened, and it continued after the game was over.
“This team hadn’t lost in over two years and we handled them pretty well.”
West Texas won the game, 50-6.
The man who assaulted the player with a chair has not been publicly identified. An investigation is underway.
The Warbirds, who hosted the game, held a press conference and issued a statement addressing the brawl on Sunday.
“What happened last night was embarrassing, regrettable and inexcusable,” the statement read. “Due to the ongoing criminal investigation, we are unable to provide many details. We are cooperating fully with the Ector County Sheriff’s Office as well as the Odessa Police. We are confident that ‘Once the details emerge, many things will be cleared up.’
The Warbirds also disavowed the man who swung the chair, saying he “does not and never was part of our organization.”
“No matter where fault, blame or guilt lies, we owe the people of the Permian Basin an apology,” the statement continued. “You should never worry about your safety or that of your child while playing our games. We are taking appropriate steps to mitigate any possibility of a recurrence in future seasons by working with the Colosseum and ECSO on enhanced proactive measures as well as response management.”
President of the Warbirds Leif Kurtis told reporters on Sunday that the team consider redirecting access to the changing rooms to prevent interaction between opposing players and restricting access to the stands from the field.