Credit where it’s due: 49ers owner Jed York has been relatively conscientious and forthright on the subject of the racial and social-justice issues at the heart of the NFL player protests. But York is still an NFL owner, and the NFL is still a business. Winning football games? A negotiable priority, apparently.
The Niners have won seven of their 39 games since firing Jim Harbaugh as head coach, including losses in their last 10 games at home. But home is that swank new palace way down in (checks map, oh shit) Santa Clara! It has amenities like organic chicken! A Super Bowl has already been staged there! And the new stadium’s built-in local revenue streams from ads and luxury suites have served to make the Niners one of the most profitable and valuable franchises in the league.
I’m again reminded of something Jack Dickey wrote for Sports Illustrated back in January, after the Chargers decided to peel out for Los Angeles, where they now get to play the functional equivalent of 16 road games every season: “An observer from outside the sports world could reasonably conclude that the NFL is in actuality a trade group for land barons, and that the game of football is a front.” Fans aren’t showing up to watch the Niners get their teeth kicked in every Sunday? Just another action item for the marketing department to worry about.