San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York is back in Santa Clara following two days of NFL owners’ meetings, and on Thursday he met with the local 49ers media to talk about what is going on. I haven’t seen full video of the interview, but from the snippets that are out there, Jed had plenty to talk about.
I’ve embedded video from Cam Inman and Matt Maiocco, and both are worth a listen. York talks about the attempts to improve the relationship between owners and players because of the importance of the issues being raised. He focused on the idea of improving the community, and when asked, talked about ways the 49ers have already started to provide some examples.
York made it clear again that the meetings with the players are not any sort of trade-off to get them to stand for the Anthem. He hopes they will want to stand for the Anthem, but he understands they are pushing for further awareness at this point. While some owners have been vocal in their opposition to the protesting, York has been supportive both vocally and financially.
The 49ers have done a lot of great work in the community, and it reflected in how he responded to Colin Kaepernick initially sitting and then taking a knee during the Anthem. York was and remains supportive of the players’ right to express themselves. Additionally, he put his money where his mouth is in donating money to a pair of community organizations that work to improve income inequality.
York has shown actual leadership when it comes to the protests, and has been arguably the most notable NFL executive in this process. Jerry Jones made his position against the protests very clear, and we did not see him taking part in the owner/player meetings earlier this week. Owners like Jerry Jones remain the most powerful in the league, but this is an area where York has at least an opportunity to emerge as a force for change in the NFL.