George Wiley has spent a lot of time thinking about what could go wrong at a Rose Bowl Game.
He worked for the Pasadena Police Department for 40 years, the last seven as a lieutenant in charge of event planning. In that time, he saw more than a million people enter and leave the stadium.
The 62-year-old Monrovia resident retired in 2010, but a common public safety dilemma at football games brought him back to work.
It’s a tradition for fans to storm the field after a game and break down the goalposts as they celebrate a win. It’s also a major liability for stadium operators.
“You climb up there with five or six people, rock them hard enough and they collapse," Wiley said. "When it comes down, somebody gets whacked in the head.”
In many stadiums, Wiley said, it takes field crews about a minute and a half to lower the heavy goalposts to the ground. Wiley said he was discussing this with Rose Bowl Operating Co. General Manager Darryl Dunn one day when Dunn challenged him to come up with something better. So he did.
His invention, a retractable goal post, collapses in eight seconds. His company, Monrovia-based First Down Football Products, has installed posts at the Rose Bowl, Boston College and Chase Field in Phoenix.
The posts at the Pasadena stadium have been in place for the past two UCLA football seasons. Jan. 1 will be their second Rose Bowl Game.
Police and security guards are the first lines of defense from overzealous fans at the Rose Bowl. But it helps to able to remove the posts in the time it takes a wide receiver to run a down-and-out pattern.
“You can’t hurt someone with this,” Wiley said.
Wiley said that when he first started working at the stadium, he knew he had found his calling. He enjoyed tackling public safety issues -- from crowd control to vendors cooking food with hot grease -- so attendees could relax and have a good time.
With years of event management under his belt, the stadium officials now give him the run of the place. He can get seats to any game, and workers on the field all know his name.
“I found my home after all those years,” he said. “This is where I belong.”