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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Can Jed York Do Anything More to Alienate Fans?

Jed York is quickly becoming the least-liked owner in the NFL (Note: Technically, Jed doesn't own the 49ers; his parents do). He alienated the 49er fan base by first firing Jim Harbaugh and then hiring and firing two more head coaches, assuming that they were the problem rather than himself. He did make a move in the right direction by finally dispatching GM Trent Baalke, but until Jed admits that he knows less about football than he thinks he does, it could be a long time before the Niners return to the Super Bowl.

Off the field Jed has probably proved to be more of a disaster. It all started out well with the construction of Levi's Stadium, which opened in 2014. However, the team wanted to take over the soccer fields next to the stadium for parking, and in 2012 York wrote a letter in which he proposed to “underwrite’’ new fields on the grounds of Santa Clara schools. Most people interpreted the letter to meant that the team would build and maintain several new fields. Jed had a different interpretation. Then in February of 2016 the Niners cancelled a girl scout sleepover because they booked a lucrative concert -- sense ultimately prevailed, the Niners managed to reschedule the sleepover, but the damage to public relations was done. Since then the City of Santa Clara has audited the Niners books, which led to a letter from the City Council accusing the them of potential breaches of contract. And then last Fall a mysterious "BLUPAC" sponsored attack ads against allies of the city's mayor, and now (just this past week), the Niners have sued the city for accusing them of breach of contract. Considering that the contract between the Niners and the City of Santa Clara has another 37 years to go, this is not a good start.

It's hard to imagine how Jed will restore the Niner image with both the fan base and the surrounding community. He (and his parents) appear to be more interested in making money than fielding a winning team or being a good corporate citizen. Unfortunately, it's unlikely that the Yorks will sell the team. The Niners do turn a profit. But that doesn't mean we Niner fans can't hope. It's going to be on my next year's grown-up Christmas list.

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