Matt Kolsky’s Bay Area Sports Thanksgiving: Giving thanks is easy when things are this good

Happy Thanksgiving, Bay Area sports fans!

This is a silly, frivolous column filled with jokes befitting my father. Before the shenanigans though, a spot of sincerity.

Hopefully as you read this on Thursday, the skies have cleared somewhat over the Bay. Even if they have, I’m sure I speak for most of us when I say how constantly I have been thinking of those affected by the horrible devastation of the Camp fire.

On a holiday that’s about being thankful for what we have and sharing with those who have less, it’s impossible not to feel for those who have lost so much, in many cases everything. Far be it from me to tell anyone what to do with their time or money, but everyone can spare at least a thought (or a prayer, if that’s your thing) and hopefully we can come together to support our brothers and sisters up north in whatever way possible.

It’s Thanksgiving, after all. Thanks. Give.

And now for something completely different — giving thanks for the bounty of Bay Area football.

The Raiders

“Be thankful for a win,” would be a cruel approach given that wins just make the Las Vegas football team’s hold on the first overall pick more tenuous — any fan celebrating a last-second victory over the lowly Cardinals that required two spectacularly stupid Arizona penalties should be confined to a padded white room.

Instead, Raiders fans should process the particular disaster that their team has become by giving thanks for the ship’s new steward, Jon Gruden.

Bay Area sports observers have all become intimately acquainted with various forms of suckitude over the past several years — the Giants have sucked in staggering fashion despite re-investing in cherished veterans; the A’s have sucked (though obviously not this year) thanks to a paucity of talent; the 49ers sucked for years thanks to rampant mismanagement and continue to suck for various reasons; even the Warriors have found a way to suck recently.

Nobody has sucked quite like these Raiders, though, and that’s all due to Gruden! Can this Oakland squad beat a legitimate NFL franchise? Certainly not — but boy is the chaos fun!!! This is not sucking in oblivion; this is in your face, maximum-volume suck. The Suck Kut of NFL franchises.

Gruden managed to utterly torpedo the team by trading its best player before the start of the season, then complained about the hole left by his absence for seven weeks. He traded a third-round pick for a wide receiver (Martavis Bryant) who he then cut, before signing him again weeks later after nobody else was interested. He turned his best offensive player into a pumpkin, then traded him to Dallas only to watch one of the least creative offensive coaches in football Make Amari Great Again.

If you thought the Raiders could be good this year, perhaps you’re upset. Fair enough. But be thankful — you’re watching a remarkable implosion, a disaster so abject it’s hard to imagine getting through six more weeks of it… and you’ve got nine years left.

It’s Jon Gruden’s Sucktacular World, we’re just living in it.

The Niners

Give thanks for Jed York. WAIT — STAY WITH ME, NINERS FANS!!

I know, and I get it — mistakes have been made. Jed York has made you angry in the past, so angry that it must be hard to adjust to the new world, where he’s the best owner an NFL fan could ask for.

York’s inability to make things work with Jim Harbaugh (and his choice to side with beleaguered GM Trent Baalke instead) set the franchise back considerably. His Jim Tomsula hire is one of the most embarrassing moves in recent NFL history, and the last-ditch effort to save Baalke with Chip Kelly was nearly as bad.

He took over a big job at age 28 and fumbled the ball all over the field for most of the next seven years, but since then he has done something that very few NFL owners have done in the history of the league — he listened, he learned and he changed.

In a league populated with tyrants like Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones, Jed York stands out as both a decent human being and a smart, young man who knows he has things to learn. Find me another NFL owner who admits mistakes and attempts to improve in his role and I will find you a tachyon (yes, I am a huge nerd).

If you’re thinking, “but they’re 2-8,” well, you’re right — but there are NFL franchises with better records who are in considerably worse shape. Thanks to York’s continued progression as an owner, the Niners have a stable leadership that includes one of the best offensive minds in football and a quarterback that most people believe will be very good, plus a number of young talents on both sides of the ball and a pile of salary cap space. An ugly 2018 just means more young talent for next year’s squad.

It may feel strange, particularly after all the energy you’ve used up hollering about how no team owned by the Yorks can ever succeed (despite the fact that they already have), but it’s time to push back from the table and squint through that tryptophan stupor to express your thankfulness for an NFL owner you can respect.

Matt Kolsky is a sports media professional (or something like that) and lives with an aging Shih Tzu/Schnauser mix in Berkeley. You can hear him on the Bay Area sports radio station 95.7 the Game, 5a-6a every weekday morning. You can listen to his podcast, The Toy Department, on iTunes or wherever else fine podcasts are free. You can find him on Twitter @thekolsky to share your personal feelings about this article or any other topic, he will respond to most tweets that do not contain racial slurs.


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