A Brooklyn man was arrested during Sunday’s Super Bowl postgame press conferences after he interrupted a player and declared his opinion on the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center attacks.
Right as Super Bowl MVP Malcom Smith was preparing to speak to the media following the football game, independent journalist Mathew Mills, 30, surged towards the podium, took control of the microphone, and stated his belief in 9/11 conspiracy theories.
"Investigate 9/11," he shouted to towards the press and the television cameras. "9/11 was perpetrated by people within our own government."
Multiple 9/11 conspiracies exist, but generally they claim the United States government either played a hand in the destruction of the World Trade Center towers, as well the plane crash at the Pentagon, or that the government had advance knowledge of the attacks and allowed them to proceed regardless.
Following Mills’ declaration, he was escorted out of the area by public relations and arrested by police for trespassing. He was later released, but his ability to gain entry into the stadium without a press pass or a ticket raised questions about the security in place at the Super Bowl.
Speaking with NJ.com, Mills said his original goal was merely to get close to the stadium and interview fans about the game. He was able to board an employee bus to the event, however, and decided to see just how far he could get before being noticed.
Mills had a press pass from an unrelated event hanging around his neck that looked similar to those authorized for the Super Bowl. Simply by telling officials that he was late for work, he eventually made his way into the media tent.
"I didn't think that I'd get that far. I just kept getting closer and closer. Once I got past the final gate and into the stadium, I was dumbfounded," he said. "I just saw my opportunity to get my word out there and I took it.”
Interestingly enough, this isn’t the first time that 9/11 “truthers” have been part of the Super Bowl conversation. Pete Carroll, the coach of the Seattle Seahawks, has raised eyebrows in the past for reportedly questioning the existence of the attacks on the Pentagon, and those comments resurfaced in the run-up to Sunday’s big game.
According to a report by Deadspin last June, Carroll supposedly questioned retired general Peter Chiarelli, who at the time had just concluded his term as vice chief of staff for the Army. As the report noted, Carroll “wanted to know whether the attack on the Pentagon had really happened.”
“Every 9/11 conspiracy theory you can think of, Pete asked about,” Riki Ellison, the former NFL linebacker who now runs the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance and was present at the meeting, told Deadspin. “And he didn’t stop at 9/11—he had lots of questions about the role of the military today.”
Over the course of the last two weeks, Carroll was never asked about his alleged comments, and at the time Ellison chalked up his line of questioning simply to curiosity and skepticism. "Pete grew up in California during Vietnam, and during Watergate,” he said. “That's just the perspective he brings to the table."