He used to be the guy who took the media pounding and more. At one 49ers game, during a halftime presentation, John York — Dr. John York using his well-earned title — was booed by the fans at Candlestick Park, where the Niners then played. Got a little angry, too, even blaming a journalist for the treatment.
York knows tough times, and as the Niners owner, along with his wife, Denise, knows what they’re going through, and what the Yorks’ son, Jed, the team CEO, is going through. John can read. John can hear. The fans and media are unhappy. So too is John York.
“Our family is extremely passionate about the 49ers,” he said. “We are disappointed this season is not a good one, and we are here to win.”
That was said perhaps for those in the Faithful who believed otherwise, who thought the Yorks were in it for the income and prestige. Only 32 owners are in the NFL, making a lie of the concept that the U.S. Senate, with 100 members, is the most exclusive club in the land.
York was speaking Wednesday at a function where he was being honored by the San Francisco chapter of the NFL Alumni for contributions to various retired players and the organization. A luncheon was held in a former armory in Redwood City on property where the Niners once had their headquarters and training site before moving in 1985 to Santa Clara.
The mistress of ceremonies was Carolyn Hoskins, whose late husband, Bob, was an out-of-this-world defensive end for the Niners in the early 1970s who died far too young at 35. Others from earlier days included Alan Kennedy, Guy McIntyre, Eason Ransom and Tommy Hart. No, Jed, was not there. It was his dad’s party, or what could be called a party, given his dad’s efforts to assist the alumni. John then was rewarded with a sport coat with the NFL alumni logo over the heart.
Naturally, you were dying to quiz John about Jed, Trent Baalke, Jim Harbaugh and everyone else at least peripherally involved with the 49ers of 2015, who, to borrow from John’s kind analysis, are a disappointment. But the ground rules for the only two journalists in attendance did not allow for questions about the decline. And that was that.
John York is a pathologist by training — one of the best, we’re told — involved with clinics he created, and a football fan by design. Growing up in Little Rock, he said, the Niners games were for a time the only ones available over the air. So, yes, John Brodie, the Niner quarterback of the 1960s and early ’70s, means more to him than Joe Montana or Steve Young — who, of course, mean more to most Niners fans.
John York’s problems were — as so many who entered pro sports after successful careers elsewhere — that he didn’t comprehend why a team owner is blamed or credited for whatever happens to the team, and it’s not really personal, only professional. In 2009, he and Denise turned over control to Jed. Everyone was ecstatic, especially when the Niners went to the Super Bowl during the 2012 season. Now, ahem. …
Now, John watches and maybe winces as Jed takes a thumping after the 49ers take a thumping.