On his reaction to the off ice incidents this season and if it inspired him to plan for future similar issues:
“Yeah, I think both incidents generated a bunch of distraction during the year. During the first meetings and the debriefings at the end of the year it was the number one object before we even got to the hockey. First thing you look at is were there any signs that we should have been aware of, for both of these incidents. If you look at yourself, managers, coaches, I think we are very good in terms of communicating with our players. We go out of our way to try and know them personally as human beings. I think it is one of the reasons we’ve always had that kind of family affect around here. But clearly, we can do more. Whether it is the coaches, the management or even the personnel people, what is it that those people could open up to us where we could have been aware of this potentially happening. The second thing, this is what I said when the Voynov thing happened, I walked down to Jeff Solomon’s office and said ‘this is my fault.’ We neglected to educate our players. We spend time teaching them systems, nutrition and everything else, but we missed a big step here in terms of assuring that they understand right and wrong. It has to be reinforced. Not only as a human being, but also as somebody that’s representing your community, so it heightens the need for this.
“What really irritated me, in terms of my own failure, was if you read Bill Walsh’s book [Finding the Winning Edge], I think you guys know how I feel about that 49ers organization. When I was coming up in San Jose, it was filled with winners and Walsh’s book was so far ahead of its time. There was a section in Walsh’s book in 1985 or 1986 talking about the need to educate your players about domestic violence. As the general manager of this team, this guy was thirty-five years ahead of his time. I’m sitting there; we had done nothing as an organization to maybe head this up. I guess that is just another reason why the 49ers organization of that time will go down as one of the greatest ever. To see that in Walsh’s bible, you kind of refer to it. It is one of those books that you kind of never get done reading it, you always refer back to it. That is what separates Walsh, he was already educating his players and we did nothing. That starts here. If Bill Walsh is thinking along those lines then why aren’t we. I don’t mean to say that anybody in this organization in Bill Walsh by any stretch. The point is that they were all active in recognizing this as a potential problem and educating their players. That is the next step.
“You’d like to hopefully be there if a player needs to come to you. Mike Altieri, Jeff Solomon and myself all met with a number of domestic violence groups. Mike is in the process of finalizing an arrangement where they’re going to come in and educate all of us, quite frankly. I’m interested in some of this myself; we all need to learn about it. As far as the other thing, Chris Harren is coming in to deal with the drug issue. I saw his story on [ESPN’s] 30 for 30 and Mike [Altieri] and I talked and said let’s get this guy in here. It is a powerful story; let’s get that on the block. There are a few other things we’re going to do. This is now no different than nutrition. There are no ifs, ands or buts; this is part of being a pro now. I just regret I didn’t have the foresight of Bill Walsh. You can be assured that we learn from our mistake on this. That is kind of the way we plan on dealing with it going forward. Like I said, there is a lot of discussion, how did this happen, why did this happen, why weren’t we aware of it and how are we going to stop it in the future. That is what we’ve come up with at this time.”
On his meeting with Jarret Stoll after the Las Vegas arrest:
“It’s safe to say, in all honesty, it was probably the most difficult meeting I’ve had in my career. It was probably one of the most gut-wrenching meetings I’ve ever had in my entire career – and I’ve had meetings with lots of players.”
On the team doing an internal investigation:
“I don’t think we were doing an internal investigation for the purposes of indicting people. It was an internal investigation of us, not the player. We weren’t investigating whether he had this, or this happened on the night of the incident. No, no, no. This was all about us. Under the assumption that this did happen – well, there is always a factual issue – we can’t afford to be at square one, where there is even a presumption of guilt. Our internal investigation had nothing to do with whether to do with the player did this or the player did that. It was all about what we could do, what we did wrong. Why nobody was thinking like Bill Walsh. It was that type of discussion.”
For a detailed look at the off-season roster moves being contemplated by the LA Kings, be sure to check out our recent MayorsManor feature story covering more than a dozen players. Plus, the remainder of Lombardi’s comments are linked below.
MORE MUST-READ LOMBARDI CONTENT:
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