Photo by Kyle Terada of USA Today Sports.
The San Francisco 49ers have had quite the offseason. So far they've had three players arrested and two others involved in an investigation into a suspicious incident and with each the 49ers have given the same boilerplate statement, only the name of the player being changed. Through all of this, one voice has been missing leading to the question:
Where's Jed York?
It appears that he is doing an impersonation of Clark Griswold
. You know the scene from National Lampoons Vacation where Sparky is driving late at night and falls asleep. The family station wagon going down a random off-ramp only to miraculously not hurt anyone and end up in a hotel parking lot.
That's Jed York, or should we call him Sparky?
From 2000 to 2010 the 49ers had only nine players run into trouble with the law and get arrested. They were near the bottom of the league, and their fans crowed about the troubles of other franchises.
Unfortunately that is no longer the case. Since Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke were hired to run the football operations in 2011 the 49ers have had the fifth most players arrested out of all NFL teams with nine.
Fortunately for Sparky, his team has won. Imagine how loud the call for change would be if they weren't.
The 49ers bottom line it appears is winning. And doing it at all costs. The character of those on the team is not important.
Not only are all of the arrested players still a part of the organization, York has allowed Harbaugh and Baalke to go out and sign troubled players off other rosters as well.
For example, during the 2013 offseason Baalke brought in troubled cornerback Eric Wright despite his two prior arrests. Baalke did the same thing this offseason, bringing in Chris Cook. Cook's two arrests were part of a league high 12 incurred by the Minnesota Vikings since 2011.
Win on Sunday that's all that matters.
That should have become clear to everyone who watches the NFL when York allowed his football men to play Aldon Smith for the entire game against Indianapolis only two days after driving his vehicle into a tree while intoxicated. Smith was two times over the legal limit in California. If it wasn't, it became crystal clear when the 49ers decided to pick up his option for 2015, only a couple of weeks before Smith would enter a no contest plea in a Santa Clara County courtroom.
The 49ers should stop the charade that they are concerned about Aldon Smith, the person when in fact all they care about is Aldon Smith, the pass rusher.
Prior to each draft, while setting up their big board, the 49ers go their list of players and issue select individuals a gold helmet. The gold helmet is meant to signify players who met certain on and off-the-field criteria. That criteria includes among other things: Do they have a passion for football? Are they clean guys off the field? Are they going to be family men first?
This sounds nice, until you go back and look at the 2011 draft class. Three of the first five players the 49ers selected that year have been arrested at least once since they were drafted, and that number goes up to four when you add in undrafted free agent Demarcus Dobbs.
How many of these guys were given gold helmets?
None of this will change until York decides to do something about it. The question is, what will have to happen before he decides to take action?
My guess is that we will continue to see the status quo until it hits the team where it matters most, the wallet.
When the sponsors, the ones helping fund the new stadium, become tired of having the negativity around their brand is when it will stop.
Until then it's win at all costs. And that's unfortunate.
Date: June 24, 2014 at 4:32 PM
Comment: This is a poorly misguided hackjob of an article. Who are you to call out Jed in an article??? You're a nobody, and to state your opinions as though they are "facts" is poor journalism. The heart of these matters is a society based issue, NOT Jed York "not caring". Aldon will face the music, and shape up or ship out. OF COURSE they extended him! It's his last chance and if he burns the bridge again he'll be done in San Fran. If that happens then write an article on the team that picks him up, THAT'S where you'll find someone who doesn't care! Get to the root of the issue, which goes back to corrupt youth football recruiting from little league to college, then talk about how these players skate through college waiting to get paid to live the "high life", THEN talk about how the NFL doesn't educate these 20 something IMMATURE men how to handle their success and fortune! It's a formula that sets these guys up for failure, and you wanna pin the blame on a guy like Jed? A guy who genuinely puts his heart into this team? Get real...and don't you dare write an article about how Jed "turned the team around" after we win our 6th trophy! You're a weak journalist. SABOD.
Date: May 31, 2014 at 7:48 AM
Comment: "Aldon Smith will be sentenced on 3 felony counts and 1 misdemeanor the day after training camp opens. That's a fact."
You can go along with many in the media and try to paint the most dramatic negative picture possible, but it just isn't reality. Smith purchased some guns legally in Arizona and did not have the triggers modified before he brought them into California. There are your horrific felonies. You are trying to make it sound like he was raping and pillaging the countryside. His drinking problems are well documented as are his weeks in rehab which you DID NOT EVEN MENTION in your post. This is nothing more than a poorly researched hatchet job.
Date: May 30, 2014 at 5:35 PM
Comment: How you pull sparky out your bleep, I don't know?? How you identify that with an NFL team president is anyone's guess. This league has seen guys involved in homicides and spousal abuse remain in the league. The 9ers players have hurt only themselves. You mention Aldon Smith when it seems as though the worst thing he's done is go to California. Talk about felony weapons charges on a guy with no gang ties nor history of drug dealing being charge like a felon on weapons that are legal in my state and most others. Talk about charging a guy months after the initial incident and after parading the guy around police headquarters for some celebrity tour. There are DUI's on almost every team which is unfortunate but not exclusive to the 9ers. Jim Irsay for example (an owner) arrested for DWI an illegal drug possession. You and others want to see so badly someone's feet put to the fire when it doesn't involve you or your family members. The NFL players are not equal and are not treated equal. Micheal Irving isn't apart of the Cowboy dynasty if he's not a beast at receiver. Neither is Cris Carter, Marshawn Lynch, Ray Lewis, Robert Smith, etc. if not for their talent. See: Alex Boone
Date: May 30, 2014 at 8:01 AM
Comment: I hate this moral high ground everyone seems to take. It's a football business with hundreds of wealthy men in their 20's.
Date: May 29, 2014 at 8:54 PM
Comment: The fact that Jed has not come out to state publicly that he wants to win with class, or that he is making the changes to ensure that such misbehavior does not occur again, does not mean he is not actually doing it. I agree with Jan, we only know the public half, so it is impossible to say for certain that he is absent. On another note, I do not think Jed, not Balke or Jim could be blamed for the wrongdoings of some of the players. I certainly want the 9ers to win with class and set the bar for the rest of the league in terms of locker conduct, but implying that the owner is absent or careless of the situation is stretching the way rubber too much.
Date: May 29, 2014 at 5:59 PM
Comment: We aren't in disagreement about the recent moves by the Niner organization. From the outside (public) perspective, it appears questionable. But we aren't privy to what is going on inside the organization, so our deductions are only based on what we see, which is just half the picture. You state that "none of this will change until York decides to do something about it." Unless you are in the management meetings with York and hear what he says to the coaches and players, that is just an assumption based on the public perception of the recent roster moves by the Niners. We can guess, and our guesses might even by right, but it's still just a guess, educated or not.
Date: May 29, 2014 at 12:25 PM
Comment: Don't be obtuse, Jack. I didn't say the "arrests" were perception. I said how the Niners organization is handling, or mis-handling, the players is perception. My point being, all we can see, or perceive, is what is given to us publicly. None of us has any idea what is happening or being said to players privately. We only see half the picture. The public half.
By: Dan Taormino
Date: May 29, 2014 at 9:17 AM
Comment: Mike Hammer, are you a Raiders or Seahawks fan? "I WANT WINNERS!" Thank you.
Date: May 29, 2014 at 8:00 AM
Comment: I can understand Jack Hammer's dislike of what the Niner team has said publicly about the recent legal problems of a few players. However, I don't think it is fair to judge the Niner organization solely on the public perception, especially when that perception has been massaged, attacked and gnawed on by reporters with an agenda. We have NO idea what has gone on behind the scenes; what has been said, what actions have been taken, what ultimatums or punishments have been used. We can speculate, guess and assume, but none of these things are facts. Could the Niner team have done better? Yes. Could reporters do better reporting? Hell yes.
Date: May 28, 2014 at 4:46 PM
Comment: get over it
Date: May 28, 2014 at 4:00 PM
Comment: Big snore. This is some Laaaaate piling on.
Date: May 28, 2014 at 3:18 PM
Comment: Yes Smith will be sentenced on three felony charges, but those charges stem from his bringing legally registered weapons into a state whose anal-retentive attitude about firearms has made them illegal. Just because the state calls it a felony does not mean the "perpetrator: is of a criminal character. Smith should be applauded for how he did everything he could to stop the violence that erupted at that party; not reviled by the likes of you because he didn't know his weapons were illegal in Kalifornia (sic). Get a life, Jack. Note that the vast majority of commenters share my view and not yours. They correctly see that you are just stoking the fires of what should be a non-story, in order to get media attention. I am a very successful international broadcast journalist and I recognize yellow journalism when I see it.
By: Joe C.
Date: May 28, 2014 at 2:39 PM
Comment: I have been a fan 49er fan all my life and through the years this organization has been one of the best at taking care of its players. I think Jack has got a little cared away.
Yes not exactly happy with the off season this year but its one off season. I think Jed has done good job try to turn this team around and take us all back to the glory days. I do believe just about all of the teams have had bad off seasons. So I would say lets not get cared away with this they will do something about this in house and we don't need to know what. Are concerns as fans Is just win Baby!
Date: May 28, 2014 at 1:53 PM
Comment: In my opinion, the game of football and basketball is fixed. The players probably know this and could care less what we think. In my opinion, they are just following their leaders.
Date: May 28, 2014 at 1:34 PM
Comment: Sure, any young man who makes any mistake or gets in any trouble should immediately be cut and thrown under the bus. Young men should never make any mistakes. We should all be perfect like Jack Hammer. And possessing a rifle that is perfectly legal in 48 states and was legally purchased should be a felony ?
Date: May 28, 2014 at 12:01 PM
Comment: Most of these violations have to deal with alcohol and being young and dumb. I mean what do you want Jed to do? Maybe wait and see what the legal ramifications will be....I think all you journalists need to stop beating the dead horse on this topic.
By: Paul A.
Date: May 28, 2014 at 11:18 AM
Your article is on the money!
Jed York has shown that he is a charlatan who has hired a bully, yes Harbaugh is a bully as demonstrated by his responce to questions concerning club policy on behavior of players , to win at all costs. York may wait for his sponsors to bolt before he changes course but he has already lost this life long fan.
Yes Mr. York character counts, you may want to start with yours first.
Date: May 28, 2014 at 11:17 AM
Comment: Lets concentrate on winning a SUPERBOWL first that to me is a personal matter.
Date: May 28, 2014 at 11:14 AM
Comment: Why should the owner say anything more than he has already? Just because a player is named in an investigation, it does not equate to being guilty of a crime.
In the culture surrounding pro athletes, unless they are stay at home, married family men, there will be instances that will become news worthy, simply because of the name recognition.
Does that mean that they are criminals? Not at all. While Aldon Smith's arrest for weapon charges sounds very bad, upon closer examination it really isn't gang, drug cartel, or terrorist related. It is about guns purchased legally in another state, that when moved to California were deemed illegal. Really not that big a deal. But go ahead fan the flames of innuendo about the players and ownership of the team. You'll fit right in with TMZ and the rest of the make a story out of nothing media that is everywhere these days.
By: Just The West
Date: May 28, 2014 at 11:11 AM
Comment: No surprises...the writing has clearly been on the wall.It's blatantly obvious that the 49ers desperately want to win now. The NFL is a vain league that is built upon performance.Fault the 49ers for not having players of high character but if you're expecting their players to be choir boys, you are certainly picking the wrong sport.
Date: May 28, 2014 at 11:06 AM
Comment: Wow, this is more than a little self righteous. Just because something gets reported in the media, it doesn't make it true, and just because somebody gets arrested it doesn't mean they are guilty. Jed is right to take a wait and see approach with these incidents.
Kilgore, for example, had all charges dropped against him. Kaepernick never had any charges filed against him at all. Everyone loves to point out that Smith played right after his DUI, but they forget to mention that the 49ers encouraged him to go into rehab for 5 weeks during the middle of the season. Is that how a "win at all costs" team handles things?
I'm not saying there aren't problems and it sure seems like a lot of crap has hit the fan at once, but I think it would be best to reserve judgment until all the facts have been revealed.
Date: May 28, 2014 at 10:53 AM
Comment: I appreciate your take on this. You make some good points overall. I'll just say that I don't think it's a bad thing to want to win at all costs. That's the job of everyone in the organization, from the top down, to win. If you don't win, you don't last long in the NFL.
Unfortunately, sometimes it means having people that are less than ideal character wise, but that's the price you have to pay sometimes. You don't want it to happen and obviously they would prefer players stay clean off the field, but unfortunately it does happen. It goes both ways though. Sometimes players who enter the league with "character concerns", like NaVorro Bowman, are the ones who stay clean off the field. It's a tricky thing to predict.
I agree though that Jed York should be more of a voice publicly. That way Harbaugh wouldn't have to constantly address these issues head on by himself. He should just get the organization's message out there once and for all, just so there's no lingering questions about the standards (or lack thereof).
Date: May 28, 2014 at 10:50 AM
Comment: Daniel Kilgore was found innocent, Cully and Aldon still have their legal cases pending. What is York supposed to say? Employers walk a thin line, and are subject to lawsuits. When Aldon and Cully's cases are finished will be the time to talk.
Date: May 28, 2014 at 10:49 AM
Comment: You need to go talk crap about another team.
Date: May 28, 2014 at 10:40 AM
Comment: Expand your mind, Jack. This isn't a prison or rehab program, it's an intelligent part of the 49ers structure. None of these guys are serious felony offenders. Most are hugely talented kids, many of whom have had little or no role models or parental guidance.
Harbs may give the appearance of being a dufus, but he's a deep and driven man, who loves to take on a young player as a challenge and to make him not only a better player, but, if possible, to help him turn his life around. Jim is a deeply caring person and takes the problems of his players to heart.
Jed's allowing Trent and Harbs to take on such challenges shows his depth of character, and willingness to extend the DeBartolo Family love to his players.
If you can't grasp what I just told you, forget about it...
Date: May 28, 2014 at 10:40 AM
Comment: Honestly, why does it matter what a player does off the field? Unless it impacts the plays on the field directly, I don't really care what they do. Obviously, a guy like Aaron Hernandez committing murder is one thing, but everything else, meh. I also understand the impact an arrest can have, if the player is in jail, he isn't helping the team. But if the player doesn't serve jail time, winning is all that really matters. I'd rather have a team full of thugs and win, then a team full angels, and lose all the time. That's my 2 cents at least.
Date: May 28, 2014 at 10:32 AM
Comment: I'm sure many here appreciate the sentiment of wanting to hold members of the Forty-Niner organization accountable for their actions as well as to a reasonable high standard of behavior...but you're beyond late to the Niner outrage party.
If nothing has been done yet, nothing will...so is this column just another attempt to rile the (idiot?) masses, or a genuine, cathartic response to no-longer-current events? I have nothing against your point of view; I just wish more sports writers didn't take the easy way out of playing provocateur.
By: Ron C
Date: May 28, 2014 at 10:31 AM
Comment: These aren't serial killers the are young kids that are growing up still. I don't see wife beaters rapists or thieves on the team. Every team has its players who have had run ins with drinking or other childish behavior and they deal with these players within the team structure and not in the media.
By: D Fresh
Date: May 28, 2014 at 10:19 AM
Comment: If the seahawks don't care about character, then neither do I.