What once was a given has become a point of contention in recent years, spanning two administrations. As the 49ers and Chiefs prepare to battle for the privilege of the next NFL invitation to the White House, San Francisco CEO Jed York has taken a pragmatic approach: It doesn’t matter until the 49ers win the Super Bowl.
“I mean, we have to get to that point,” York told reporters on Friday, via Matt Barrows of TheAthletic.com. “For me, personally, I respect the office of the President. And I’m not going to get into politics. I hope we have that decision to make and I hope we have that opportunity and I hope we’re fortunate enough to get a call from the President to invite us to the White House.”
York may have avoided politics on Friday, but his politics are no secret. Unlike most of his colleagues in NFL membership, he’s not a conservative. Unlike most of his colleagues in NFL membership, he has not shied away from publicly criticizing the current occupant of the residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
In 2017, after President Trump made highly critical comments of players who choose to kneel during the national anthem, York called the remarks “callous and offensive” and “contradictory to what this great country stands for.” The next month, speaking to Peter King, York said of attacks from the President, “We need to be above it. We need to be above petty attacks from anybody, because racial and socioeconomic inequality have existed in this country for too long. You’ve got to block out the noise and do your job.”
On Friday, York made it clear that he respects the office. If the 49ers win, the ball will be in the White House’s court to issue the invitation. Given that the kneeling controversy began with a former 49ers employee in August 2016, and in light of the very simple and superficial fact that the team is headquartered (at least in name, and in Super Bowl parade) in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district, there’s a decent chance that the letter gets lost in the mail.