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September 09, 2019

What we know about Mike Scott's tailgate scuffle before Sunday's Eagles game

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090919-MikeScott-USAToday Bill Streicher/USA Today

Philadelphia 76ers forward Mike Scott (1) reacts during the first quarter against the Toronto Raptors in game six of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center.

What began as another one of Mike Scott's attempts to interact with Philadelphia fans on Sunday turned into an incident that marred what was otherwise an uneventful day for the Sixers' backup forward.

PhillyVoice conducted discussions with roughly a dozen people, reviewed photo and video evidence, and spoke with team personnel regarding Scott's dust-up at the Eagles' home opener against the Washington Redskins. All accounts painted the incident as unfortunate and avoidable, but nevertheless a noteworthy part of opening day.

Scott's plan for the day was to stop by the popular "4th and Jawn" tailgate to interact with Eagles fans in advance of the game. The Virginia native advertised his plans for weeks prior the Eagles' home opener, and on the morning of the game, he posed in a Sean Taylor jersey in Center City to prepare fans for his arrival.

Scott, in other words, was very much prepared for the sort of hostile ribbing a rival fan gets at an Eagles tailgate.

Pursuant with team policy on player attendance of public events, Scott was accompanied to the game by a member of the Sixers' security team and was on the way to the aforementioned tailgate when he spotted a coffin surrounded by Redskins paraphernalia on it. A source close to the situation says Scott thought it was a funny thing to see at a tailgate, and approached the area in an attempt to get a picture in front of it.

Upon approaching the area with the coffin — which prominently displayed a "Party Like It's 1991" shirt, a reference to the last time (1991-92) Washington won the Super Bowl — eyewitnesses say Scott was greeted with hostility by the group tailgating in that area. They did not recognize Scott as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers and instead appeared to view him simply as a large man in opposing colors attempting to start trouble at an Eagles tailgate.

Though some fans in the area initially engaged in the sort of accepted hostility you expect between division rivals — "F*ck the Redskins!" and "F*ck you!" were among the insults directed his way — witnesses say tailgaters who escalated the situation directed racial slurs, specifically the n-word, in Scott's direction in the area by the coffin.

The majority of witnesses who spoke to PhillyVoice painted it as the cause of the fight that was later captured on video, though a smaller group claimed not to have heard them until the shoving eventually broke out. 

There was, however, universal agreement that slurs were used during the incident, and multiple eyewitnesses in the area at the time say they continued to hear racially insensitive language after the incident had been broken up and Scott had moved on to go about his day.

A team spokesman told PhillyVoice that based on their review of the available evidence, the Sixers are not treating this matter as a disciplinary incident at this time, and they will not punish Scott for his involvement absent a new development.

The Sixers are, however, reviewing their team policies regarding security at public events as a result of the incident. With their security in place to help deescalate on Sunday, they were still concerned with how quickly the incident was able to unfold, and the team places a premium on maintaining the safety of their players at all times.

Scott, who has spent a lot of the offseason making surprise appearances around the city to interact with fans, would go on to have an otherwise incident-free day at the game. The team was happy no one (Scott or otherwise) was seriously injured in the fracas, and believe ultimately it would be unfair to use this incident as a representation of the Philadelphia fanbase, which has otherwise maintained a strong relationship with Scott.


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