Jed York of the 49ers targeted Stephen Ross of Dolphins, upsetting some NFL owners

Good York wants to win at all costs. with the
San Francisco 49ers
In a Super Bowl-or-bust setting, that’s a mindset most Bay Area residents can fall behind.

Yet York, the 49ers CEO, brings the same energy to the Santa Clara mayoral and city council elections, throwing money and publicity behind candidates who will do his bids and favors. Many locals, and even some of their fellow York NFL owners, are less supportive of these measures. They have every right to be upset.

If we’re being honest with ourselves, this is inappropriate behavior for a person in his position – and it’s all starting to feel a little gross.

49ers, as
Lance Williams and Ron Kruezek provided extensive reporting
For The Chronicle, he crossed over with the City of Santa Clara over the Levi’s Stadium operating agreement, which led to a 2016 request for a rent reduction of more than $4 million per year. The city resisted the request, won the arbitration, and, three years later, terminated the team’s stadium management agreement, sparking lawsuits brought by both parties.

At that point, York decided he had had enough. He contributed a total of $2.9 million to several city council candidates ahead of the 2020 election, helping secure a friendly majority for the Niners. Since then, the city council has taken more than one for the team, from firing the city attorney and city manager (who challenged the 49ers over stadium issues), and rail through a proposed franchise settlement of lawsuits in closed session and holding regular meetings with team officials.

It is outrageous that this month a grand civil jury reprimanded five City Council members, regularly accusing them
“Putting the interests of the 49ers before the interests of the city”
She suggests that they may have violated city and state ethics laws.

You’d think that would be inappropriate enough to make York back off and take a special victory run. Instead, it doubles its power. The current target of York Mania is Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gilmore, who has battled the team during her six years in office. He wants her out of the office, and he’s not shy about it.

Once again, York is throwing money at the problem, with
49 people contributed $3.1 million
Towards “independent spending committees” supporting three candidates in the upcoming election – including the one running against Gilmore, a bully named Anthony Baker who might also campaign in a 49ers shirt with “JED’S LAPDOG” stitched across the back.

Somewhat surprisingly, among the barrage of offensive ads funded by those commissions is a TV spot taking pictures in one of York’s NFL peers: Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.

Ross may be known as the man who was recently suspended and fined by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for tampering with Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady and then-New Orleans coach Sean Payton. Or you may be familiar with Bruce as a defendant in a civil lawsuit filed in February by former Miami coach Brian Flores, who alleged racist hiring practices at the league level and accused Ross of trying to pay him for game losses.

So, yes – Ross is a polarizing character. This is not the problem here, however. In this case, Ross is just collateral damage in York’s relentless pursuit of what he wants in Santa Clara.

Ross, a real estate developer, owns Related Santa Clara, which is leading an $8 billion retail, housing and commercial project across from Levi’s Stadium. Gilmore, who is also the vice president of a real estate company her father founded, has been supportive of the project, and is seen by Ross as an ally.

After Ross contributed $100,000 to Gilmore’s campaign in mid-September, York saw an opening and lapsed. A 49ers-funded advertisement began flooding the airwaves – including ESPN’s telecast of the 49ers “Monday Night Football” win over the Rams this month – that attacked Ross personally, calling him “one of Donald Trump’s biggest supporters” and claiming he was involved in “Shady Back Deals” with Gillmor. (Ross held a fundraiser for Trump’s reelection campaign in the summer of 2019).

For one NFL owner to endorse such a public removal of another is highly unusual, although it couldn’t quite surprise Ross – he and York clashed over their divergent interests in the run-up to the 2020 election before they both agreed on the phone to step down .

Ross, due to the NFL sanction, did not attend this week’s New York owners meeting; Otherwise, he may have touched upon the problem in a high-profile place, or at least privately to Goodell.

In recent days, I have discussed the York/Ross dispute with three other NFL owners, and two senior team executives who attend owner meetings, all of whom have expressed disappointment that the 49ers-funded ads are targeting Ross personally.

“that’s wrong!” Said one of the owners of the NFC team.

Another NFC owner said, “You don’t like seeing it. … the association works best when it acts as a partnership, and when we treat each other as partners with common interests. But when you get into politics, it becomes fodder for things like that.”

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