POLICY CHANGE CREATES MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS FOR 49ERS
49ers President Carmen Policy announced his resignation
yesterday, a move that "leaves a huge void in the front
office of one of the most successful sports franchises in
history," according to Ira Miller of the S.F. CHRONICLE.
Policy: "Stepping aside is very, very difficult. It's
awkward, but it's not impossible" (For more on Policy, see
(#14). Miller writes that Policy's "sudden exit raises
questions not only about the management of the 49ers but
also about plans to build" a $525M stadium-mall at
Candlestick Point. Larry Thrailkill, CEO of the DeBartolo
Corp., which owns the 49ers, will take over day-to-day
management of the team on an interim basis. Thrailkill said
there is no timetable for hiring a permanent replacement for
Policy, "but the Nashville lawyer gave little indication
that he was interested in hanging on to the job himself."
Miller reports that Bill Walsh's name "has come up
repeatedly in speculation as [team co-Owner Eddie]
DeBartolo's choice." Thrailkill said that DeBartolo's
ownership status is still in limbo because of his legal
problems in LA, but DeBartolo remains "committed" to the
stadium-mall project and to plans for S.F. to host the 2003
Super Bowl. Thrailkill: "We believe we are getting very
close to the point we can have an announcement how we're
going to proceed" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/23). In San Jose,
Michael Martinez reports, "It was clear Policy's resignation
took the organization by surprise" (S. J. MERCURY NEWS,
7/23). Policy, on his legacy: "I'd like my legacy to be
that I was a problem solver. I handled stress, I handled
adversity, and I handled transition in a straightforward,
intelligent and appropriate way" (S.J. MERCURY NEWS, 7/27).
NOT A DEAL BREAKER: S.F. Mayor Brown said that plans
for the stadium-mall complex will move forward despite
Policy's resignation: "I can assure you the project is not
dead in the water. The project has been going forward"
(S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/23). Brown, on Policy: "I frankly don't
know of any other city where the general manager is just as
well known as the quarterback" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/23).
THE RETURN OF EDDIE D? In N.Y., Mike Freeman reports
that many NFL team execs "believe Policy's resignation means
that DeBartolo no longer fears being indicted and therefore
wants control of the team again. Since DeBartolo no longer
trusts Policy, he wanted Policy gone from the franchise"
(N.Y. TIMES, 7/23). Policy: "Eddie and I had a relationship
that lasted 30 years, one that has been put in a deep freeze
-- one that has not defrosted over the past few months"
(Richard Weiner, USA TODAY, 7/23). In S.F., Matier & Ross
report that sources close to the family said that "some of
the hostilities" between DeBartolo and his sister and team
co-Owner, Denise DeBartolo York, "have dissipated -- leaving
open the door for the two to eventually resolve their
differences" (Matier & Ross, S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/23).
REAX: In S.F., columnist Glenn Dickey writes, "Policy
will land on his feet ... but this is a very sad day for
49ers fans" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/23). Also in S.F, Ira Miller
writes that the 49ers "won't ... find someone who can be a
smoother voice for the organization or present a better
image than Policy. Few in sports work a crowd better than
Policy" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/23). A CHRONICLE editorial
states that Policy's departure "is harder to instantly
measure than the loss of any key player, but it almost
certainly will be more significant in the long run" (7/23).