Chargers fan fined for throwing football during pregame Qualcomm tailgate

Jay Busbee
November 10, 2013

Friends, we may have finally found a more nanny-state rule than the one that got a dad kicked out of University of Phoenix Stadium when he asked his son to hold his beer. A tailgater at Qualcomm Stadium was given a $280 ticket for having the temerity to — get this — throw a football in the parking lot before last month's San Diego-Indy game.

The San Diego Union-Tribune brings us the story of 27-year-old Jesse Unger, who was throwing the ol' pigskin when officers approached him and asked him to stop throwing the ball. When Unger refused, the cops gave him a ticket. Unger noted that the officers were regretful, one of them even saying he ought to frame the ticket, which listed his violation as "PLAYING BALL."

Unrealistic or not, the ticket carried a cost of $280, so Unger decided to fight, contending the law isn't posted anywhere, even though it's the first line in Qualcomm's Parking Lot Policies and Procedures. The law is contained in San Diego Municipal Code 59.0502, which indicates that fans may "intentionally throw, discharge, launch or spill any solid object (including footballs, baseballs, frisbees and other such devices) or liquid substance or otherwise cause subject or substance to be thrown, discharged, launched, spilled, or to become airborne.”

Obviously, you can see the reason: if you happen to be less accurate than, say, Peyton Manning, you could sling a football into someone else's tailgate. And if you throw with the inaccurate velocity of San Diego's own Philip Rivers, you might just knock someone out cold. But still. It's tailgating. You're a lot more likely to be struck down by undercooked sausage than by an errant football.

In fact, it's such an overly protective rule that, according to Unger, even the judge in Clairemont Mesa Traffic Court didn't think much of it. He dismissed Unger's ticket, then, according to Unger, proceeded to rant about the Chargers' running game, because of course he did. Only Tennessee, Seattle and Indianapolis also ban footballs in tailgates, per the Union-Tribune.

On the field, the Chargers' pass defense is currently ranked 28th in the league. Perhaps they could move up a few more notches with the assistance of the court system.

Jay Busbee is a contributor for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter.