A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use
KMBC reporter William Joy highlighted the green laser beam, seen here on the center of Tom Brady's helmet. The laser appeared to be around 4 inches wide, and danced on the quarterback's upper body — it was not held steady. Video by Turner Twyman.
According to Joy, the beam was on Brady's eyes and helmet at least three times during the game: "…once right after the muffed Julian Edelman punt call was overturned when Patriots retook possession, once on a completion to Chris Hogan, and once on a deep ball to Rob Gronkowski."
The NFL's security department was looking into the incident. As of January 23 2019, Kansas City police have not received a complaint but say they will investigate if a complaint is filed.
From the Washington Post, Boston Globe, musketfire.com and many other news sources. Sports Illustrated has an especially detailed look at the safety and legal issues around laser pointer misuse at NFL games. Thanks to Doug McCullough for bringing this to our attention.
COMMENTARY BY LASERPOINTERSAFETY.COM: Based on the brightness and size of the beam in the videos, it is highly unlikely that this had enough irradiance (power density) to cause harm to any person's eyes.
Light from a laser pointer can harm human eyes at close ranges; within a few yards or meters. But at the distances involved, from a person in the stands to a player on the field, light from a handheld laser pointer would spread out (as the video shows) and would not be steady enough to allow dangerous heat to build up in the eye. This goes for both visible green light, and any non-visible infrared light (some poorly-constructed green laser pointers also emit non-visible infrared light).
The worst effect would be glare or brief flashblindness, like when a camera flash goes off close to a person's face. Since Brady did not seem to notice, and others — national sportscasters and the two teams involved — also did not notice anything unusual at the time, the laser targeting did not seem to affect the outcome of the play or of the game.
LaserPointerSafety.com has more stories about lasers misused during sporting events.
UPDATED February 3 2019: ESPN reported that Kansas City Chiefs officials, using videotape and eyewitnesses, identified the person who aimed a laser at New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The person has been banned for life from the Chiefs' stadium. The officials have asked the Kansas City district attorney to bring the strongest possible charges against the person, to act as a deterrent.
ESPN also reported that "…members of the military have reached out to Brady to inform him that the lasers shined near his face could cause irreversible eye damage."
From ESPN and many subsequent sources such as the Boston Herald and CBS Sports
Analysis from LaserPointerSafety.com: There is a Joplin city ordinance, dating from 1999, that makes it illegal to annoy, harass or injure a person or animal. It also is illegal for a person under 18 to possess a laser pointer. It is not known how it would be illegal for a 36-year-old to possess a laser pointer.
From the Joplin Globe
Ordinance 4880 has an attached “Explanation to Amended Council Bill No. 99-61” which gives some reasons for the city’s restrictions on laser use and possession. One of the “local abuses” cited is the following:
- “Another offense includes a three-car collision, where a young man pointed a laser light into the car ahead of him and startled the driver, causing him to slam on his brakes and cause a pileup.”
The plea agreement dropped a second charge of using a laser beam to harass or annoy another person. He could have been fined up to $500 and been jailed for between 30 and 90 days (sources differ as to the maximum sentence for this offense).
Bogard’s lawyer said his client made “an extreme error in judgement”. He also said that Bogard was not the person “who actually did most of the harassing [and] disturbing the peace.”
A St. Louis official said the plea agreement had been cleared with the baseball Cardinals.
From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Additional information is at LaserPointerSafety.com’s original story. It includes an August 17 update about the resignation of the person who controlled the stadium suite where the laser pointer misuse originated.
Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny saw a green dot on the pitcher’s mound in the bottom of the seventh inning. He saw the teen in a luxury suite near the first base line and mouthed “I see you” to him. The boy then aimed the laser over Matheny’s head. Security followed the teen and two of his friends as they tried to ditch the laser pointer in a trash can; it was later recovered. The boy was apprehended and spent a few hours in jail. The Cardinals will also take action against the owners of the suite where the teens sat.
Police said they would seek criminal charges against the unidentified teen.
Giants’ pitcher Shane Loux said he did not see the laser light, although a teammate said he saw green light on Loux’s face.
The Cardinals’ director of security said lasing a player can be dangerous because of the possibility of blinding and because “when you go into what's been going on in the country right now, it's totally irresponsible to pretend you've got laser sights on somebody."
From KMOV, Examiner.com, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
UPDATE August 8 2012: The teen was identified as Eric Bogard, a high-school student in Ladue, “the wealthiest inner-ring suburb of St. Louis” according to the city’s Wikipedia entry. Bogard’s lawyer said the laser was never directly pointed at anyone and that Bogard was part of “kids in the box acting foolish. Acting like kids.” The lawyer said Bogard “regrets his actions.”
Bogard was originally charged with disturbing the peace at an athletic event. This carries a fine of $25 to $500 and up to 30 days in jail. On August 8, he was also charged with violating the harassment section of a 1999 ordinance regulating laser use and possession. The section states “It shall be unlawful for any person to focus, point or shine laser beam directly or indirectly on another person or animal in such a manner as to harass, annoy or injure such person or animal.” This carries a fine of $50 to $500 and up to 90 days in jail. From Fox2Now, KSDK and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Eric Bogard, via Fox2Now
UPDATE 2, August 17 2012: The stadium suite was used by a Mercy Health System executive. She resigned her position after publicity about the incident, during which she was confrontational with stadium authorities. With regard to the teen, Eric Bogard, police say there is “no additional movement” in the case. From the Creve Coeur Patch.