A 19-year-old fan caught the ball in the stands after the Dec. 29 game in Seattle

By Benjamin VanHoose
January 07, 2020 03:00 PM

A single move might end up costing one NFL quarterback.

Celebrating his team’s win over the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 29, Jimmy Garoppolo of the San Francisco 49ers launched the gameplay football into the crowd of spectators, a violation of the league’s fan safety guidelines.

According to the NFL’s schedule of infractions and fines, “football into stands” falls under the sportsmanship classification, and incurs a $7,017 fine. A second offense warrants a $14,037 fee.

On Monday, the league officially fined Garoppolo, 28, for the $7,017, according to USA Today, although his representation reportedly plans to appeal the fine.

While the impassioned hurling of the ball off the field might mean a financial loss for the player, it meant one fan walked away with a notable keepsake.

Jimmy Garoppolo
Jimmy Garoppolo, Dec. 29, Seattle’s CenturyLink Field
| Credit: Abbie Parr/Getty

Matt Pinelli, a 19-year-old fan from San Jose who attended the Seattle game, said he wasn’t paying attention to the final seconds of gameplay when he looked up to see the ball coming his direction.

“I was actually on my phone and I didn’t even know what was happening,” Pinelli said on The 49ers Insider Podcast, according to NBC Sports. “I was texting my friends, saying how awesome the game was. And a bunch of Seahawks fans had their backs to field, walking up.”

He continued: “I looked up from my phone to see the ball just coming toward me, like a row over. So once I saw it, I got into the aisle, and I had to push a Seahawks fan over and I jumped on the ball.”

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Pinelli documented his catch on Instagram, proudly showing off what’s now an even more memorable souvenir.

According to NBC Sports, Garoppolo said shortly after the throw that he initially looked for a referee to hand off the ball, but decided to throw it in the heat of the moment.

“I looked for the ref initially, but no one was around me,” Garoppolo said at the time. “So I was like … I’m just going to throw this thing.”

He added: “I got home and I told my mom, ‘Yeah, I threw it in the stands.’ She’s like, ‘Did you hit someone?’ I said, ‘I have no idea if I hit anyone.’”