It’s an old trick. And it’s also a good one.
Say one thing, and do the exact opposite.
That appears to be the playbook that Jed York is operating out of these days.
The San Francisco 49ers CEO pounds his metaphorical fist on the metaphorical table and demands accountability. Either I don’t know what the word “accountability” means, or York has some explaining to do.
On Tuesday, following the press conference to announce the retirement of Patrick Willis, there was no explaining to be done.
When the franchise cornerstone and five-time All-Pro finished fielding questions, head coach Jim Tomsula and general manager Trent Baalke leap from their front row seats, and one said to the other: “Let’s go!”
They raced right out of the Levi’s Stadium auditorium, and York, freshly returned from Cuba and sporting a beard, was right behind them.
Reporters followed the brain trust out the doors and into the crowded hallway, but there was nothing to see, no questions to be asked, as they fled into bowels of the team headquarters.
“We want today to be about Pat. Can’t you respect that?” barked a team spokesman.
It was the most 49erish-thing ever. Entirely too predictable. Letting Willis throw a block. The team was hiding behind its departing legend, while questioning the respect of the reporters who were just doing their jobs.
In case you missed it, the franchise just careened through a three-day train wreck of historic proportions. Let’s recap.
Willis called it quits.
Fellow defensive stalwart Justin Smith is all but out the door.
Frank Gore departed in free agency to join the Indianapolis Colts.
And Bruce Miller ended up in the police blotter after being arrested on suspicion of domestic battery.
Now is not the time for radio silence.
Now is the time for getting out in front.
Apparently the brass doesn’t agree. When York took the stage to speak—yet not to take questions—he said one thing that did resonate.
“Pat to me is what embodies winning with class.”
York was spot on. The 49ers lost a great football player. The team also lost its classiest one.