An animal rights group has hit out at Los Angeles Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner for taking down one of its protesters, who ran on to the field on Monday night.
A video of the incident, during the Rams’ game at San Francisco 49ers, has gone viral with more than 6 million views. It shows Alex Taylor, from the group Direct Action Everywhere, being tackled by Wagner with the help of teammate Takk McKinley.
Direct Action Everywhere told Newsweek that the force of the tackle was “excessive” and members of the group were upset at how the protest had ended, saying Taylor had been “beaten up.”
Another protester, Allison Fluty, was tackled by security before she could get on the field but Taylor showed them a clean pair of heels—setting off a flare as two guards trailed in his wake.
The protest was brought to an abrupt halt by the linebacker’s intervention and the group said: “Bobby Wagner’s tackle seemed pretty excessive, considering the protester is so much smaller than him, clearly posing no threat to anybody.”
Its caption said it wanted “to raise awareness about the #SmithfieldTrial and the #RightToRescue. DxE activist Alex Taylor was TACKLED by Bobby Wagner and DxE activist Allison Fluty was tackled by security.”
The group later told Newsweek that, despite the tackles, it was delighted with the exposure the incident had provided.
“We’re very happy with the outcome of the demonstration. Sensational content like a protester getting tackled by an all-pro NFL linebacker draws lots of attention. While plenty of that attention is pretty superficial, plenty more is not.
“We saw the biggest spike ever to our Right to Rescue website, where the public can hear about an unconscionably unjust reality. Ordinary people don’t want animals to suffer and don’t want whistleblowers who rescue sick piglets to go to prison, so they overwhelmingly support Paul and Wayne.”
These are Paul Darwin Picklesimer and Wayne Hsiung, two members of the group who are on trial in Utah accused of stealing pigs from a farm run by Smithfield Foods.
After the game, Wagner, 32, told reporters that he was simply helping security.
“I saw someone running on the field and he wasn’t supposed to be on the field. So, security was having a problem, so I helped them out,” he said.
Newsweek has contacted the Los Angeles Rams for comment.
The incident was not shown live by the ESPN cameras covering the game but was discussed afterwards by the co-commentators, former NFL stars Peyton and Eli Manning.
A replay of the takedown was then shown, much to the delight of the Manning brothers. Peyton Manning smiled as he said: “That’s what we’re talking about! Wagner! A veteran … Get him down, get out, and let these guys [the security] take over.”
Eli Manning was not impressed with the protester’s attire, explaining that his brother had initially told him the game had been disrupted by a streaker.
He added: “Amateur hour there. If you’re gonna streak, you gotta go full-throttle and go nude, right? I mean, what is this?”