This is my Wednesday column on Jed York.
On second thought, Jed, don’t talk.
Go ride a bike. Gardening is fine. There are so many things you can do. But, please, no more talking publicly. You’re making things worse with this Ray McDonald mess by making it all about you.
You probably didn’t want to talk about the issue in the first place. I acknowledge that. You stayed silent for nine days after McDonald was arrested and jailed overnight on suspicion of allegedly assaulting his pregnant fianceé at his birthday party. You let Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh talk for you. But they are football people. They are not qualified to talk about moral and legal issues. Owners are supposed to handle those.
But it turns out you’re no more qualified than they are to discuss those issues. You’re less qualified, actually. What life experience do you have to handle things like that? You’re only 34 years old. You’re a rich guy who was given an NFL team.
If only you were given a spokesman, too. You seem to hurt your cause when you open your mouth. Hire someone to do your talking for you — like Carmen Policy, who did most of the talking when your uncle, Eddie DeBartolo Jr., owned the team.
Since you don’t have someone to fill the Carmen Policy role, fans and media demanded that you speak for the organization about McDonald. You finally talked the day TMZ leaked the video of Ray Rice knocking out his wife in an elevator. You agreed to be interviewed from Levi’s Stadium on The Murph and Mac Show the following morning.
Mac asked why you let McDonald play against the Cowboys. Murph asked why you didn’t bench McDonald and pay him until he was exonerated. Murph pointed out that two former players on the 49ers Mt. Rushmore — Steve Young and Ronnie Lott — publicly said the team should not play McDonald until he’s exonerated.
Let’s look at what you said, Jed.
You started by saying “it’s very important to let due process take its course.” You were talking the day after the world saw how due process failed in the case of Ray Rice. We all witnessed in horror a video of Ray Rice committing a felony, but he will serve no jail time and his record will be completely expunged after he completes a diversionary program.
Bad time to invoke “due process,” Jed. Few people currently trust that due process will bring justice to women who were abused by NFL players unless someone leaks video evidence of the assault to the public.
Now, when you say, “We support due process,” it sounds like you’re really saying, “We won’t do anything unless an overwhelming amount of evidence forces our hand.”
You sound like the Ravens.
Let’s look at what you said next. This is the most revealing statement: “I’m comfortable if my character is going to take shots throughout this process.”
No, no, no, no and no. You don’t get the picture, Jed. It’s not about you or your reputation. It’s about the reputation of the franchise, the reputation of Young, Lott, Brent Jones, Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, John McVay, Bobb McKittrick, George Seifert and Bill Walsh. Walsh gave the 49ers a conscience. I guarantee Walsh would not have played McDonald. (Eddie DeBartolo told the Mercury News he thinks Walsh would not have played McDonald.)
It’s your job to protect their legacy and the 49ers’ brand. They’ve entrusted you to do that. Forget your reputation. It doesn’t matter. I’ll tell you this, Jed. You tarnished the 49ers’ reputation for everyone I mentioned.
When you were a kid, the 49ers were the No.1 franchise in sports, not just the NFL. They won with class. They won their first championship when you were a year old. They won their fifth championship when you were 15.
You’re not part of that legacy. Your job is to protect that legacy and, if possible, add to it.
After going on about your character and how you look at yourself in the mirror and how you consulted with your mom and wife, you reiterated that the 49ers have a zero-tolerance policy on domestic violence. Are you serious?
Jed, do you know who’s on your team? You currently tolerate three players who were accused of assaulting women.
Ahmad Brooks allegedly punched a woman in the left eye on April 9, 2008. He accepted mediation and was not charged.
A woman accused Perrish Cox of raping her when she was passed out on Labor Day Weekend, 2010. Cox denied having slept with her. She became pregnant with his child that weekend. The two settled a civil suit out of court.
Chris Cook was arrested and jailed for assaulting his girlfriend on October 22, 2011. The Vikings suspended Cook indefinitely without pay four days later. He ended up missing 10 games. Cook said he was acting in self defense. He was acquitted in court. The 49ers signed him this offseason.
Counting Ray McDonald, four of the 49ers’ starting 11 defenders this Sunday will have been accused at one time or another for domestic violence.
That’s your legacy, Jed. How’s it going so far?
Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.