MLB Giants co-Owner Charles Johnson "sits atop the Giants’ food chain and therefore is a symbol" of the team, but his recent actions have put the organization in a "very sticky situation," according to Scott Ostler of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Johnson recently "contributed to two political campaigns with frighteningly racist overtones," and the Giants are now "being threatened with boycotts" by fans. Amos Brown, president of the NAACP's S.F. branch, is "calling for a local and national boycott of the Giants." Brown said that he "would call off the NAACP boycott if Johnson demands the return of his contribution" to the campaign of U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.). Giants President & CEO Larry Baer in a statement yesterday said that the Giants "don’t condone racist language or behavior." Ostler: "In terms of responsible corporate behavior, that’s a pretty low bar, but OK. ... Can’t someone at the Giants’ HQ beg old Charlie to back off, or be more selective in who he supports? Apparently not." Baer is in a "tough spot" because he "basically runs the team." Ostler: "But I know I don’t give orders to my boss." If Johnson "chooses to stand on principle and on the strength of his political and moral convictions, then he should expect his team’s fans to do the same" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/27). In Sacramento, Marcos Breton writes despite Baer's "suggestions to the contrary, what’s objectionable about Johnson has nothing to do with simple political differences." Until the Giants "come correct on this issue -- until the organization repudiates Johnson by name," some are "not going to patronize the Giants as a business any longer" (SACBEE.com, 11/27).
KNACK FOR CONTROVERSY: In S.F., Wu & Schulman in a front-page piece note for the "second time in two months, the Giants issued a statement denouncing racism in the wake of a political donation by Johnson, a faithful Republican donor and longtime Bay Area investment-company executive and philanthropist." Johnson's attorney, Joe Cotchett, said that Johnson "rarely reads the political pages, mostly follows sports, and did not know about the 'public hanging' controversy" surrounding Hyde-Smith. The donations "stemmed from an entreaty from the Republican leadership to donate to candidates in tight races, which the Johnsons did." S.F.-based civil rights attorney John Burris "does not buy that line of thinking." Burris said, “That to me is not a valid justification to say that it was unknown, he didn’t know.” Burris added that campaigns "would not have approached Johnson unless 'he was aware of your philosophy and who you would want to give money to.'" Boycott organizers said that the goal is to "pressure Johnson to either relinquish his connections with the Giants or at least withdraw his support from Hyde-Smith." Cotchett said that he does not expect Johnson to divest from the team and said Johnson "loves the Giants." Johnson also "wanted his attorney to make it clear that all of his donations are personal and 'have no affiliation with the Giants or any other company'" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/27). NBCSPORTSBAYAREA.com's Ray Ratto wrote the Giants and MLB have been "confronted with a new paradigm, namely actually having to decide what level of outrage they can stomach for donating to campaigns of people whose views their customers find abhorrent, like the Hyde-Smiths of the system." It means that "pleading 'oops' and asking for a refund no longer is the easy way out" (NBCSPORTSBAYAREA.com, 11/26).
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: Twitter commentators responded strongly to the statement issued by Baer on the donation issue. S.F. Chronicle's Ostler: "Where's Charles Johnson's statement/explanation?" NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic tweeted if fans are waiting for Johnson to sell his stake, "you’ll be waiting a long time." Popular Information's Judd Legum: "The Giants refer to Charles Johnson as one of '30 owners' but fail to acknowledge that he's the majority owner." Sports writer Molly Knight: "This is quite the ride from bragging to defensive to throwing up their hands. Saying nothing would have been better, IMO. ... Baer is right about one thing though: the SF Giants are a classy, inclusive organization that has been at the forefront of civil rights issues for decades. For that reason I don’t see how Johnson can remain the principal owner."
Bill Bowlen, the brother of Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen, said that he "doesn’t want the NFL involved" as an arbitrator in the family's ownership dispute because he believes it is a "family matter," according to Nicki Jhabvala of THE ATHLETIC. Bowlen said his complaint is "not against any of the beneficiaries," rather it is "against the trustees and the way they’re handling" the estate of his brother. Bill Bowlen: "You have to ask yourself, ‘Why do they not want to address my complaint?'" Jahbvala noted the Broncos' ownership dispute has "escalated rapidly since May," when Pat's daughter, Beth Bowlen Wallace, "declared her interest in becoming controlling owner." The trustees "immediately deemed Wallace, 48, 'not capable or qualified at this time.'" Broncos President & CEO Joe Ellis, one of the three trustees, later "insinuated their plan is to wait for Brittany Bowlen, 28, to become qualified or to sell the team." Bill Bowlen prior to filing his complaint said that he "tried to arrange a meeting with the NFL, himself and his attorney, and the trustees, but that the trustees wanted to send only their attorneys to the meeting." So he "nixed it" and "filed his petition five days after Brittany for the first time publicly stated her interest in eventually becoming controlling owner." Bill Bowlen said that Wallace and Amie Klemmer, 49, Pat’s oldest daughter, "attempted to seek mediation with the NFL earlier in the year, but the trustees declined." Bill Bowlen said that he and his attorney have "spoken to the league about the dispute in recent months, but doesn’t believe it will want to preside over the issue, despite the trustees’ request for arbitration" (THEATHLETIC.com, 11/26).
The Eagles' Social Justice Fund has "amassed close to $500,000 to date" thanks to a deal struck between the Players Coalition and the NFL last fall, where funds are "set up so the players on each team can donate up to $250,000, with the team matching up to that amount," according to Tim McManus of ESPN.com. The Eagles have "distributed $190,000 so far to four Philadelphia-area nonprofit organizations." On the day before Thanksgiving, nine people were "bailed out of jail in Philadelphia via a $50,000 grant from the Eagles Social Justice Fund." A source said that other teams, including the Bears and Buccaneers, also have "started the process of allocating their funds." The Eagles "created a social justice leadership council which includes six players" -- Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Chris Long, Derek Barnett, Nelson Agholor and Michael Bennett -- and five staff members in "charge of setting up the structure of the fund and helping with the application process." McManus noted cash bail has been a "primary focus of the Players Coalition." Jenkins said that their efforts with the nine individuals whose bail was posted "can be used as 'an example of success'" (ESPN.com, 11/26). Jenkins said that the "convening of officials and organizers was meant as a model that can be replicated around the country for community-led reform of the criminal justice system, beginning with its front door." In Philadelphia, Samantha Melamed notes the bailout was "paired with a resource fair, so those who were released could gain access to workforce training and social services" (PHILLY.com, 11/26).
In S.F., Ann Killion writes fans may have a "sense of deja vu with the 49ers" after LB Reuben Foster's arrest and subsequent release. Killon: "A player is accused of frightening criminal behavior. A player is arrested. A player is given a second chance. A player is arrested again. A player is fired." The common denominator in the "recurring criminal incidents involving 49ers players is CEO Jed York, who has not clearly and publicly set a team standard." Additionally, the 49ers’ relationship with Santa Clara County law enforcement "has deteriorated to the point where they no longer get courtesy calls for incidents involving their players" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/27).
LASTING IMPACT: A HOUSTON CHRONICLE editorial states that the city's fans should remember that late Texans Owner Bob McNair’s "risky gambit in bringing the Texans to town was more than just a celebration of football." It was a "contribution to our city’s civic life practically unmatched in modern history." For "more than two years McNair lobbied the NFL and team owners, rallied local leaders" and paid $700M of his "own energy industry fortune to bring pro football back to Houston." Over the years, McNair "earned some harsh criticism," but his "contributions, including his generous philanthropy outside of sports, rise above the controversies" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/27).
NOT THE RIGHT FIT: The Flyers fired GM Ron Hextall yesterday, and USA TODAY's Kevin Allen notes when Hextall "played goaltender in the NHL, he was the king of aggressiveness," but his style as an exec was "far different." He was "less impulsive, more calculating," and "favored long-term planning to quick fixes." The Flyers "may have wanted him to be the Hextall of old to deal with the current struggles, and his unwillingness to do that probably cost him his job." Fans can conclude that Flyers brass "expected Hextall to light a fire under an under-achieving team." However, he "didn't seem to have a match" (USA TODAY, 11/27).