The real measure of Snyder’s incompetence is the team’s record under his ownership. Since Snyder bought the team in 1999, the fabled franchise has won only 42% of its games. Snyder has run through eight head coaches while meddling in player lineups.
On the other side of the country the pilots of the San Francisco 49ers have leapt to the top of the worst-owner charts. The 49ers have won fve Super Bowls—only the Pittsburgh Steelers, with six, have won more—but none has been during the 15-year stretch of York-family ownership. The Yorks (John, Denise and son Jed) fred the two most successful coaches they’ve had. One, Jim Harbaugh, took the 49ers from the abyss to the Super Bowl in two seasons. He led them to three consecutive NFC championships. But CEO Jed York thought Harbaugh was too intense and let him go, after frst trying to sabotage the coach’s reputation.
Harbaugh is now coaching at the University of Michigan. As all but the Yorks could have predicted, Harbaugh is turning the Wolverines back into a winning team.
In 2005 the York-owned 49ers had the frst pick in the NFL draft. They declined Aaron Rodgers to take Alex Smith of Utah. Smith, now with the Kansas City Chiefs, is what NFL insiders call a “game manager.” That’s a quarterback who doesn’t make many mistakes but whose talents are limited. Smith is rated 20th out of 32 starting QBS in the NFL. Number one is—you guessed it—rodgers, 31. If he stays healthy, Rodgers stands to become the best pro QB ever—better than Brady, Montana and Elway.
Why did the 49ers not take Rodgers? The Yorks and their lackey general manager didn’t like the young QB’S attitude. Rodgers is extremely smart and confdent. The Yorks don’t like smart and confdent. They didn’t like it in Harbaugh and didn’t like it in Rodgers.
I love sports, because it’s such a highstakes yet ultimately harmless way to learn about character and management. Great sports franchises and coaches can teach us a lot—as can the worst ones.