Milton Ahlerich and NFL Security: Goal-Line Stand
Anything can happen at a football game. But Milton Ahlerich, the NFL's VP of security, has sworn to make it safe for players and fans alike.
By Daintry Duffy
January 01, 2004 — CSO — He stands 6 feet, 4 inches, and he's 312 pounds of solid muscle. Since age 15, he's been a football superstar, all-regional, all-state, and he broke every tackle and sack record at his high school. He was an even bigger star in college and was selected in the first round of the NFL draft. He's had his picture in the paper so many times that his mom stopped keeping track. Now he's a 21-year-old rookie pulling in seven figures. His new car is worth more than the house he grew up in. All the dislocated shoulders, the screaming coaches, the nights spent lifting in the gym have earned him this one shot at professional success. But he could lose it all in an instant. All it takes is a drunk fan at a local bar who picks a fight with him. "Hey, rookie, you cost me a thousand bucks. You couldn't hit the broad side of a barn." Our football star feels the adrenaline he's paid big bucks to unleash on the field. He clenches his jaw and tightens his fist, and....
"And...stop!" yells a voice from stage right. A moderator steps forward, turning his attention away from the troupe of actors on stage playing out this scenario for the 300 NFL rookies sitting in the audience. "So, how would you guys deal with this situation?"All the Right MovesFlush with their first taste of big-league competition and success, these young athletes are at the National Football League's rookie symposium to learn that security isn't just about the guns, guards and metal detectors they see at the stadium. Each summer, Milton Ahlerich, the league's vice president of security, and his staff try to make the case to the rookies that they need to be able to handle themselves in potentially volatile situations because, even if inebriated barflies don't pose a physical threat to the muscle-bound goliaths, the legal fallout from a barroom brawl could cost them a football career.
Of course, teaching disgruntled-fan management to would-be football stars is just a small part of Ahlerich's responsibilities. He's also charged with coordinating security best practices across the league for regular season games and has direct authority over the security for post-season events like the Super Bowl and the Pro Bowl. In addition, his security team arranges for protection detail for league officials, NFL executives and team owners when they travel to other stadiums. They handle background checks for rookies, new owners and team executive hires. And they provide site security for the league's headquarters. All of which must be accomplished while dealing with the occasional prima donna player or the bombastic coach with an ego big enough to fill the Minneapolis Metrodome.