Originally posted on This Given Sunday  |  Last updated 10/17/12

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.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Hit Stick: What is the one sports video game fans need to buy this holiday?
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Chargers GM won’t commit to Mike McCoy’s return in 2017

Report: Police close to arresting Matt Barnes for alleged assault

Carmelo: Cryptic Instagram posts were about Phil Jackson

DeMarcus Cousins trade rumors won’t go away

NFL folks think Jabrill Peppers ‘more hype than substance'?

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Joe Haden: Winless Browns the 'laughingstock of every joke’

Did Del Rio give Reid the stink eye after Thursday’s game?

Lane Kiffin reportedly believed Houston job was his

Harbaugh stands by claim Pats broke rules in 2015 playoff game

Green, Durant laughed at Jazz coach for not surrendering

Art Briles sues Baylor officials for libel, slander

Why UCLA's Lonzo Ball is the most interesting player in college hoops

The NBA goes courtside to curbside: Drinks and rides for discerning fans

The best (and worst) times athletes hosted 'SNL'

CFB Crash Course, Graduation: Final grades and awards

NHL All-Star Game fans are in search of another John Scott

Box Score 12/9: Carey Price has had enough of your nonsense

MLB Winter Meetings, Day 4: News, notes and rumors

Matt Ryan is now Mr. Pick-Two

Ten most significant developments of the NBA season

Ten bold predictions for NFL Week 14

Sporting life: Gifts for the fan who is always on point

MLB Winter Meetings report, Day 3: News, notes and rumors

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

Why UCLA's Lonzo Ball is the most interesting player in college hoops

The NBA goes courtside to curbside: Drinks and rides for discerning fans

CFB Crash Course, Graduation: Final grades and awards

The five best (and worst) times athletes hosted 'SNL'

NHL All-Star Game fans are in search of another John Scott

Sporting life: Gifts for the fan who is always on point

Matt Ryan is now Mr. Pick-Two

MLB Winter Meetings, Day 4: News, notes and rumors

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

MLB Winter Meetings report, Day 3: News, notes and rumors

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker