Jed York, right, seen with father John York
By Lowell Cohn
The Press Democrat
You knew it would happen sooner or later. Jed York would open his big mouth and louse up everything for the 49ers.
He opened his big mouth the other day in an exclusive Comcast interview with Matt Maiocco when he not so subtly threatened to move his team to Los Angeles if he doesn’t win a June 8 vote in Santa Clara for his new stadium.
I actually should call his new stadium his new playpen. He’s like a little boy threatening to pick up his toys and go home if he doesn’t get his way.
He uttered a few doozies in the interview. Here is one of them. “Growing up in Youngstown, Ohio, I watched the (Cleveland) Browns become the Baltimore Ravens. And my family never wanted that to happen with the 49ers, to look somewhere else outside the market.”
This is a threat, folks. I don’t believe York intends to follow through on the threat to move the team out of the Bay Area, but it’s still a thinly veiled warning.
He introduces the possibility of moving the 49ers by pretending not to introduce it — “my family never wanted that to happen.” He’s saying the Browns moved to Baltimore and even took another name and he doesn’t want the 49ers to do that. But it could happen if the ballot measure fails. And even though the Yorks have generous hearts and would weep for months, they’d move a team that is a Bay Area institution. Nice talk, Jed.
York’s statement is heavy-handed, to say the least. It’s also unnecessary, as far as I can tell. The stadium proposal — MeasureJ — ought to pass on June 8. What the heck, MeasureJ backers are spending record amounts of dough to woo the 25,000 or so pawns who will vote in Santa Clara
So why is York acting panicked? You’ve got me.
Here is York’s Doozy Quote No. 2. Explaining why he doesn’t want to move the 49ers to L.A., York said: “That’s why we focus all our effort into winning the ballot on June8, so that never becomes an issue and you don’t have to think about that.”
Again York introduces a scary thought by pretending not to introduce it — call his technique shrewd and intellectually dishonest. He says he wants the idea of moving his team to L.A. never to become an issue. But he clearly raises the possibility even though he does it in the form of a negative.
What should reasonable people think of York’s tactics so close to this vote?
We should think he is trying to strong-arm Santa Clara. That’s what we should think. We should wonder if this is who the Yorks really are, bullies who wear nice suits and have learned good grammar but reflexively resort to threats and scare tactics just because they can. If this is who the Yorks are, do we like them?
We should think the 49ers are shoving the awesome burden on little Santa Clara for keeping the 49ers in Northern California. Think about it. The folks in Santa Clara are voting on a stadium, end of story. They are not holding a referendum for every other Bay Area municipality on whether or not the 49ers should remain up here. It’s awful to put Santa Clara voters in that position — to potentially vilify them as Bay Area betrayers if the measure fails. That is precisely what York is doing.
The 49ers have talented public-relations people. I know many of them. You wonder if York ran these ideas past his PR staff before he went public. Any decent publicist would tell him to smile and shut up, or to say the 49ers will be in Northern California until the last tick tock on the last clock of time. He didn’t do that. He turned menacing, kicked little Santa Clara in the gut before allowing the citizens to have their say.
How do you feel about this, Santa Clara? Do you feel courted or attacked?