A charity football game between members of the FDNY and the NYPD was meant to be a family-friendly outing in Coney Island but quickly turned into a bloody brawl when a verbal dispute escalated on the field.
New York's Finest and New York's Bravest met on the field at the MCU Park Saturday for a friendly football game, the proceeds of which would go to help families in both departments. But the Fun City Bowl ended with fists flying.
"I think one of the FDNY guys exchanged words with the NYPD player and then from there, I couldn't see what was happening, I just saw the crowds come around the player," said Angel Zayas, a freelance photographer who was filming the game on the sidelines. "I heard it happening before I saw it happening."
Zayas watched one of the firefighters walk away with blood dripping down the side of his face.
"He was pulled out of the crowd, the FDNY guy," he said. "It was trickling out the side, you could see the blood on the side of his head."
Moments later, a second fight broke out, and players on the sidelines ran to the center of the field to jump in as families watched from the stands.
Zayas described another FDNY member being tackled, "and then they surround him and everyone jumps into the center of that."
Then the arguing, fighting and tackling subsided, and the crowd cheered and applauded in an attempt to encourage the goodwill. Handshakes and hugs were exchanged between the red and the blue, and a man could be heard telling one of the teams: "Listen up. Don't embarrass yourselves, you hear me?"
"At the end, they were all talking, it was like water under the bridge," Zaya said.
The NYPD said in a statement, "Football is a competitive sport, whether it is the NFL Super Bowl or the annual NYPD-FDNY challenge. It is part of the spirit of the sport, but it all ends on the field."
The game ended with the NYPD winning 29-13.
It's not the first time the teams have brawled during a charity game. Last year, members of the NYPD and FDNY fought on the ice during a hockey match at Nassau Coliseum.