Mayor: Training video 'reprehensible'

Updated: June 3, 2005, 4:14 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO – Kirk Reynolds made just the kind of offensive gaffe he'd preached to the 49ers players about avoiding.

San Francisco's well-liked public relations director is on his way out of the organization after producing a controversial in-house video meant to prepare players for dealing with the media.

The video showed players exactly what not to do, all right.

The 15-minute film leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle features racist jokes, lesbian soft-porn and topless blondes -- and even a scene of Reynolds impersonating San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in the mayor's office.

Reynolds called it a "terrible mistake," adding the video did not prompt his recent resignation to explore other interests, but said the incident would likely speed up the process of leaving.

"I'm more sorry than anybody," he said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "My intention was to deliver a message important to our team. Certainly the execution and my decision-making were way out of line. I deeply regret it."

Reynolds said he made the video to coach players on handling media questions in diverse San Francisco -- and never meant it for public consumption.

The video was shown to players last August during training camp in Santa Clara, where it was part of a diversity workshop.

"I certainly offended people and I never intended to offend anybody," Reynolds said. "Anybody who knows me, that's not a reflection of who I am. I did something for a certain audience that got out of hand. ... It was contradictory to my values and beliefs and contradictory to the team's values. I completely apologize to anybody who was offended."

The mayor and the city's gay leaders are among those furious with the video -- and Reynolds knows the anger probably stretches across the country.

The team's owners are embarrassed. The Chronicle published an image showing Reynolds with the half-naked women under a screaming headline Wednesday.

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."

An NFL statement supported the Yorks' viewpoint.

"We share their view that the video was inappropriate, offensive in every respect, and of no value whatsoever," the league said. "It does not reflect the 49ers' values and traditions or those of the league and its member clubs."

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 several players defended Reynolds. Linebacker Julian Peterson, who appeared in the video as a panhandler, said the video wasn't meant to hurt anyone's feelings.

"I know Kirk personally. I know he has not addressed anybody with racial slurs," Peterson said.

Center Jeremy Newberry, who had surgery on his knee Tuesday, said Reynolds was misunderstood.

"He was just trying to show people's biases and how stupid people can be," Newberry said.

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.

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. "The video is reprehensible."

Coach Mike Nolan, left to face the media Wednesday at the 49ers' practice facility, 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."


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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