Bobby Wagner trucks protestor carrying pink flare during Rams-49ers game

A protestor's evening met a violent end in Monday night's game between the Los Angeles Rams and host San Francisco 49ers.

With seconds remaining in the first half, a man ran onto the field at Levi's Stadium carrying a pink smoke flare. He sprinted across the the 30-yard line during a break in play toward the Rams' sideline. This turned out to be a bad decision.

As yellow-clad security staffers struggled to keep up, a pair of Rams defenders saw their opportunity. The protestor turned up field when he reached the sideline in front of the Rams bench. Defensive end Takkarist McKinley took his shot. He chased the protestor directly into the path of All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner, who trucked him into the turf.

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ESPN cameras caught a closer angle, much to the delight of Peyton and Eli Manning.

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Security then escorted the man off the field. His fate from there wasn't immediately clear. After the game, Wagner explained his call to take on a security role.

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"He looked like he wasn't supposed to be on the field," Wagner said. "I saw security was having a little problem. So I helped him out."

A protester is hit by Los Angeles Rams defensive end Takkarist McKinley, middle left, and linebacker Bobby Wagner during the first half of an NFL football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Rams in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)
Los Angeles' Takkarist McKinley and Bobby Wagner tackle a protestor on Monday night in Santa Clara, California, in the Rams-49ers game. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

While more painful than he likely intended, the protestor likely got the attention he was seeking. A photo provided by KNBR shows the man wearing a shirt reading RighttoRescue.com, a site that states its cause as "raising awareness for whistleblowers facing prison time for exposing factory farm abuses."

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Meanwhile, affiliated group Direct Action Everywhere claimed responsibility for the stunt on social media. If this all sounds familiar, it's because it's not its first foray into the sports world.

The group made headlines in April when a protestor glued herself to the floor at a Minnesota Timberwolves game wearing a T-shirt reading "Glen Taylor Roasts Animals Alive." Taylor is the outgoing Timberwolves owner who also owned a chicken farm that culled 5.3 million hens during a bird-flu outbreak. Days later, another fan chained herself to a basket during another Timberwolves home game.

The same group claimed credit for a two-person protest during the NFL's season-opening game between the Rams and Buffalo Bills at SoFi Stadium. Like on Monday, those fans ran across the field carrying pink smoke flares. Though they didn't meet the same violent end.

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