Bengals' 'Jerk' hot line gets mixed signals in debut

Updated: August 15, 2006, 9:46 AM ET
Associated Press

CINCINNATI -- Most of the people who called the Cincinnati Bengals' new hot line for reporting unruly fans just wanted to see if it worked -- or hung up.

About 100 calls had come in to the hot line, 381-JERK, by the end of halftime at the Bengals' preseason game Sunday against the Washington Redskins. The team set up the hot line to allow fans to report excessive foul language, fights and other bad behavior in the stands.

Hamilton County sheriff's deputies were dispatched to handle rowdy fans at least once because of a call to the hot line, said Bob Bedinghaus, the team's director of development for Paul Brown Stadium.

One security guard manned the hot line's sole telephone during the game. The line doesn't have call waiting or voicemail, so some fans might have gotten a busy signal.

Bedinghaus said that's likely to cause complaints, "but we're not going to put 25 people down there to answer phone calls." If the line is busy, fans can ask a security guard or police officer for help.

A call to the hot line alerts security to check out the complaint on camera, then in person if action is warranted. According to Bedinghaus, the team has 38 cameras in the stadium.

"It was a great tool to call attention to something we're trying to address: unruly fans," he said.

Bedinghaus said the team probably will review the hot line's effectiveness after the second home game of the regular season, on Oct. 1 against the New England Patriots.

"If 90 percent of the calls we're getting are prank calls," he said, "we need to re-evaluate this."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press