Originally written on This Given Sunday  |  Last updated 11/18/14

Kathleen Russell runs a daycare business out of her Los Altos, Calif. home, so when anybody shows up unannounced, she's a little suspicious. That happened at around 4:45 Monday afternoon, when a baby-faced 30-something wearing a polo shirt and Dockers approached the house.

But the first thing the man did was assure Kathleen he wasn't a solicitor or any other type of unwanted guest.

"I come by your place all the time and I admire your flag," he said, referring to the rectangular-shaped, San Francisco 49ers-themed piece of fabric Kathleen and her husband, Steve, have had waving outside of their home for as long as they can remember.

The man said he worked for the 49ers and wanted to thank Kathleen's family for their support by offering them tickets to Thursday night's crucial prime-time home game against the division-rival Seattle Seahawks.

Naturally, Kathleen was curious to find out what exactly the man did with the Niners.

"I'm the CEO," he told her, shaking her hand. "Jed."

She later told Steve she had been given tickets to the game "from some guy who said he's the CEO."

"I didn't recognize his first name," Kathleen told me, adding that Steve's "a little upset I didn't come and get him" when 49ers owner Jed York paid a visit.

Steve, 56, estimates he's been a 49ers fan about 56 years. He and Kathleen rarely get to games but are huge supporters. Now, they'll attend their first game in years, all because a 31-year-old multi-millionaire -- a man who last week was named to Fortune Magazine's 40 Under 40 List for 2012 -- took time out of his evening commute home to his extremely pregnant wife (she was due to give birth to the couple's first child on Tuesday) in order to thank the Russells for waving a simple flag.

It's not the first time that's happened. A butcher at a local grocery store tells Steve that York -- who lives nearby -- has stopped in and handed out tickets to employees before.

This is a guy who gets it. York is doing his part to buck a stigma. He's bridging the chasm that has historically separated fans from dinosaur owners. He, fellow dynastic heir Jim Irsay, and the tech-savvy Paul Allen are the only NFL owners on Twitter. York and Irsay have used social media heavily to connect with their fan bases, even giving away tickets via open contests for followers.

Will this become a trend? Will new-age owners like York and Irsay lead the next generation of franchise CEOs into an era that further cuts middle men out of the historically frigid relationships between fans and owners?

What York and Irsay seem to realize is that -- in a highly-competitive sports world dominated by bandwagons -- they have the personal power to secure fans for life with the simplest of gestures. Do you think those bagboys at that local Los Altos grocery store will ever defect to the Davis empire in Oakland now that they've been handed a ticket from the man who runs the Niners?

So these efforts aren't only good deeds, but they also exemplify good business. Those in lines of succession in NFL family businesses across the country should take note, because York and Irsay are pioneers, embracing supporters now so that those very people will continue to return the favor for the remainder of their lives.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

LeBron James lists his top three friends in the NBA

Reds to have in-stadium nursery

Izzo: MSU could win football, basketball titles in same year

Durant ‘would love to’ spend entire career with Thunder

Elementary school sportswriter has hot take on Cam Newton

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Romo was willing to take pay cut to keep DeMarco Murray

Marcus Mariota reportedly not planning to attend NFL draft

Alabama RB dismissed from team after marijuana arrest

Golden Tate: Departure of Suh won't pressure Lion's offense

Are the Angels being overlooked?

Team USA improves before meltdown in Swiss draw

'Zo on MJ: He would average almost 50 in today's NBA

Report: Las Vegas season ticket drive passes goal of 10,000

WATCH: Steph Curry drops Chris Paul with crossover

WATCH: Spoelstra gives nice shoutout to Craig Sager

WATCH: Drew Miller takes skate to the face

WATCH: Gronk describes his perfect wife

Reigning National Champions to boycott Final Four in Indiana

This isn’t Tom Izzo’s greatest March masterpiece

New development clears path for Rams relocation

WATCH: J.J. Watt sings about stadium food on 'New Girl'

Kings ready to shut down DeMarcus Cousins

Jameis Winston may skip NFL draft to be with grandmother

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: Curry drops CP3 with crossover

Durant wants to spend career in OKC

This isn’t Tom Izzo’s greatest March masterpiece

Are the Angels being overlooked?

Top 20 players in the Final Four

Top 10 players in baseball

Report: Tiger's plane spotted in Augusta

Moss shares story on meeting Deion

Five coaches already on the hot seat

Can we envision the Hawks in the Finals?

10 winners and losers from the past week in the NFL

Namath parties with 100 yr-old women

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.