(AP) An in-house video meant to prepare 49ers players for dealing with the media backfired on the NFL team Wednesday after it was leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The 15-minute film, featuring racist jokes, lesbian soft-porn, and topless blondes, features the team’s public relations director, Kirk Reynolds, impersonating San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in the mayor’s office and other city scenes.
Now the mayor and the city’s gay leaders are outraged, the team’s owners are embarrassed and Reynolds is officially looking for another job. The Chronicle described the film and published an image showing Reynolds with the half-naked women under a screaming headline on Wednesday.
[Today, the video is available on the Chronicle’s Web site with a disclaimer rare in the newspaper online business. Although the paper reveals that it has “deliberately blurred scenes which contain nudity,” the disclaimer reads: “The content on this site contains adult content, including potentially offensive adult language and partial pictorial nudity which the San Francisco Chronicle and sfgate.com are partially obscuring. It is to be accessed only by persons who are 18 years of age or older, who are in a community or local jurisdiction where nude pictures or explicit adult material is not prohibited by law, and who are not offended by adult language. You should not view this material if minors are present with you. By accessing this Web site you represent to us that you meet such qualifications. This material may be offensive to our readers and is not suitable for minors. …
By clicking below, I confirm and represent that I am 18 years of age or older and that I am not located in a community or local jurisdiction where nude pictures or explicit adult material is prohibited by law.”]
Reynolds said he made the video to coach players on handling media questions in diverse San Francisco ? and never meant it for public consumption.
“Did I push it too far? I did,” Reynolds told the Chronicle. “The ideas of the tape are appropriate for the locker room ? though some of the subjects were inappropriate for the values of this organization, and mine, frankly.”
The video was shown to players last August during training camp in Santa Clara where it was part of a diversity workshop. General Manager Terry Donahue showed a snippet to team owner John York in January, just one day before he was fired, and sent a copy to York at York’s request in March. Team lawyer Ed Goines got the tape about three weeks ago, the Chronicle reported.
Team owners Denise and John York on Wednesday called the video offensive, inexcusable and “absolutely contradictory to the ideals and values of the San Francisco 49ers.”
“Ostensibly, the video was created to raise player awareness about how to deal with the media and to demonstrate by example how poor conduct can unintentionally make news,” the Yorks’ statement said. “Unfortunately, this video is an example in itself.”
The Yorks didn’t address Reynolds’ future and Reynolds declined to return repeated requests from The Associated Press for comment.
Goines said in a statement that the team’s executives never reviewed or approved of the video, and has since issued “appropriate discipline to the person or persons responsible.”
But team spokesman Jason Jenkins said Wednesday that Reynolds was exploring other opportunities, and “has planned to leave for some time.”
Reynolds opens the film sitting behind the mayor’s desk, then goes to Chinatown, where a 49ers team consultant uses racial slurs about the Chinese community. Next comes a topless, lesbian wedding filmed at a strip club and officiated by Reynolds, again impersonating the mayor.
“I know the courts say we can’t do this,” Reynolds says before the happy couple engages in heavy petting. “We make our own rules here in San Francisco.”
Reynolds then goes to SBC Park, where acting as “mayor” he throws out the opening pitch, then takes a bribe from the catcher, who thanks him for supporting “hookers and booze.”
“You do something controversial, you say something controversial, it will have an impact on this team. So remember, be mindful of your actions,” Reynolds says, wearing only a towel before joining three topless blondes for a group hug in a strip club’s dressing room. “What you do is not only a reflection of yourself. It’s a reflection of the San Francisco 49ers.”
Newsom ? shown the tape by the Chronicle ? was not amused.
“It wasn’t right to do it to the Asian community, particularly the Chinese community. It was wrong to do it to the gay and lesbian community. It was wrong to exploit women as they were exploited in this video,” the mayor told Fox-affiliate KTVU on Wednesday. “The video is reprehensible.”
The mayor’s staff will now insist on seeing the content when it grants requests for filming inside City Hall, said his aide, Peter Ragone.
Leaders of the city’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender community weren’t satisfied by the many apologetic statements issued by the team Wednesday. They claimed the video fits a pattern of discrimination within the 49ers organization that dates to homophobic comments by former 49ers running back Garrison Hearst in 2002, and demanded that team officials meet with leaders of the communities demeaned in the video.
“The 49ers benefit from their relationship with the city,” said Thom Lynch, president of the SF LGBT Center, “but they have responded by belittling and ridiculing the diversity of the city.”
Coach Mike Nolan, who was left to face the media Wednesday at the 49ers training camp, stressed that the video reflected decisions made by an old “regime,” and that York has since put the team in the right direction.
“I will say this: We do a lot of the sensitivity training, and we do it in the right manner. This is an example of how you do not do it,” said Nolan, who was hired in January. “That’s not what the 49ers will be about.”