Lowell Cohn: Jed York is the owner of this 49ers mess
SANTA CLARA - Jed York gave the stupidest answer at his Monday news conference. I'm saying it was the stupidest answer I've heard in 37 years in this business.
He was doing his usual blah-blah about how he wants to improve his miserable product – the team. So, I grabbed the media microphone and said, “You dismissed your general manager and coach because they didn't reach certain performance standards.”
“That's part of it,” he interrupted. I didn't need his interruption.
“OK, let's stick to that part,” I insisted. “Why shouldn't you be dismissed or reassigned for the same reasons?”
Meaning he is easily as incompetent as just-fired Chip Kelly and Trent Baalke. Jed looked at me. Swallowed hard. You could see him thinking, “Are people allowed to ask questions like that? Of me?”
“Again,” he said, “nothing I'm going to say is going to be satisfactory.”:
“Say something,” I said.
“We are going to be judged on what we do and what we accomplish. We haven't accomplished enough. I own this football team. You don't dismiss owners. I'm sorry that that's the facts and that's the case, but that's the fact.”
That was the stupid answer I've been referring to. The stupidest.
I mean, did he have “You don't dismiss owners” written on a cue card? Did he walk into the room ready to claim his owner's privilege? Did his head of public relations tell him, “When Lowell asks a really tough one about your level of competence, just tell him you own the team and he and the fans can go screw themselves.” Or did Jed come up with that all on his own?
Here is an equivalent statement for “You don't dismiss owners.”
“It's my ball and we play by my rules.”
Nerds who said that in Brooklyn when I was a kid also stuck out their tongues at us. Jed just stuck out his tongue at the entire fan base. He said, in effect, “You can't touch me and there's nothing you can do about it.”
One question: Since when is Junior the owner? Excuse me, but I've always thought Mommy is the owner. I've always thought Mommy can rescind his owner privileges. If only she would.
Monday was not a great day for Jed. Had the dry mouth. Looked morally offended that we media lowlifes held him accountable. My heart broke for him.
A while later, Grant Cohn asked this one. “You said you own this football team. A lot of owners don't make football decisions. What's your response to those who say you should remove yourself from football decisions and hire a president to run the show?”
“We have a president,” Jed shot back. Snotty tone. “His name is Al Guido, and I don't make football decisions.”
But Jed does make football decisions. He will make one soon when he hires a new coach and GM. So he wasn't being honest. What a surprise from a moral paragon like him. As far as Al Guido goes, what does he know about football? I like Al. He is a nice man, full of pep. But he is not a football expert.
Later, Brian Murphy asked the same question. Who will guide Jed through the crucial hiring process, so he won't louse up yet again? Murph didn't exactly phrase it like that. He's more polite than I am.
“Obviously, my uncle is somebody that I talk to on a very regular basis,” Jed intoned to start a marathon-long answer. “There are several other very well respected people, people that have been a part of this organization in the past, that have hired head coaches in that past, certainly coaches that I know that aren't getting back into the game that have been Super Bowl winning coaches and Hall-of-Fame-caliber coaches and some of them are in the Hall of Fame. I'm not going to name people by names, but there are certainly enough people that I know and trust and respect that I think the world would trust and respect their opinion. I just want to give them the respect of their privacy and their anonymity.”
I cut him off. His answer was so saccharine sweet I thought I'd get diabetes. I didn't even have the microphone but I blurted out, “It would give people more confidence in you if you name a few names. I think what Grant and Murph (are) getting at is that you have good intentions, but in the last three years, your intentions haven't come to fruition and the feeling is among people who follow the team that maybe you're not quite well enough connected and don't have a Bill Walsh with you? Eddie DeBartolo Jr. had Bill. Eddie was not the expert. Bill was the expert.”
“And I'm not the expert either.”
“I understand,” I said.
“And this isn't a debate,” he said. “If you want to sit down and have a conversation, we can.”
“Who are the people that you can go to to help you to make your vision come true?”
“Out of respect to them, I'm not going to throw people's names out there to use those people's names.”
Say what, Jed? Out of respect, you won't name names. Are these people in the Witness Protection Program? Are they internet hackers or drug lords? It would be good to name names. Wouldn't hurt anyone. Would show you have connections beyond Paraag Marathe, another non-football operative. Would show you are serious.
Jed sure names names when it suits him. He named Guido. He named his uncle Eddie. He trots out Eddie's name whenever he is in trouble. He cries uncle.
Please leave Eddie out of this, Jed. He's a great guy. He's retired. He didn't create this mess. You did.
And you know what, Jed, I don't believe you have names to name. You are clueless just like you were clueless last year and the year before. A lost boy. Mark my words. You are going to make a mess of this. It's what you always do.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.