New NFL security plan forces Cowboys fans to pack light

Posted Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Waiting in line Saturday at AT&T Stadium, Jessica Garland gripped a tiny pink clutch handbag and shook her head.

“It fit my cell phone and wallet. That’s it,” said Garland, of Killeen. “I couldn’t even bring hand sanitizer.”

Thousands of Cowboys fans on Saturday faced for the first time the NFL’s new security policy banning most regular-sized purses and bags, and opinions varied from indignation to mild irritation, as the gates opened for the Cowboys first home preseason game.

Fans also can no longer bring in backpacks, diaper bags, seat cushions, fanny packs, camera cases and more. League officials say the rule change will improve safety and reduce long waits in line.

Before the game against the Cincinnati Bengals, pre-security screeners handed out free 1-gallon storage bags to fans who were unaware of the rules or forgot. Signs were placed around the stadium and repeated on a stadium loudspeaker. Stadium officials also contacted area hotels, cab companies and shuttle services to help spread the word.

As they lined up, women carried small clutches, clear storage bags or dainty shoulder bags, no larger than 5 1/2 inches by 8 1/2 inches. The league also is selling clear bags emblazoned with team logos, and season ticket holders received free bags with the Cowboys star.

Melissa Marrero and her husband, Steven, pushed their 7-month-old son, Jeremiah, in a stroller and carried a clear plastic storage bag that held a few diapers, wipes, bottles and a change of clothes. The couple said they understood the reason for the rule, but they wished an exception could be made for diaper bags.

“Not being able to bring in a diaper bag is a big inconvenience,” Melissa Marrero said. “We take the diaper bag with us everywhere we go.”

Garland said she left her infant son at home in Killeen because of the new policy.

“The NFL portrays itself as a family-friendly organization,” Garland said. “But this policy says the opposite.”

NFL officials have said they enacted the bag ban largely in response to the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people and injured more than 260 in April.

Sheila Moreland, of Ivanhoe — who placed two pairs of glasses and her wallet in a clear plastic bag — said she did not mind the new policy if it improves security. She even sort of enjoyed the freedom of not hauling her heavy handbag, she admitted.

“I understand the security concerns, so this isn’t a big deal,” Moreland said. “It’s better to be safe.”

Nearby, Donna Thomas, of Dallas, chatted with friends and carried a petite silver shoulder bag that she said barely fit her cell phone.

“You do not mess with a woman’s purse,” Thomas said. “The NFL needs to reconsider.”

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