Mooney in common for NFL executives
Coincidence, fate, some would call it just that.
For Ed Policy and Jed York, it’s a path the two seemed destined to follow growing up in the shadow of the San Francisco 49ers system — a juggernaut in NFL circles in the 1980s and early-to-mid 90s with five Super Bowl championships.
There was something even stronger which vaulted the two current league executives toward the NFL — Cardinal Mooney High School.
Policy, 49, is the chief operating officer and general counsel for the Green Bay Packers. York is the chief executive officer of the 49ers. Their teams play each other today in the NFC Championship as the Packers travel to San Francisco.
Policy is a 1989 Cardinal Mooney graduate and played football for legendary coach Dom Bucci. York, a 1999 Mooney graduate, was on the baseball team and student-body president.
The two eventually went to the University of Notre Dame after their respective tenures at the southside Youngstown school.
Carmen Policy, Ed’s father, was an executive with the 49ers in the ’80s and ’90s and attended Ursuline.
York grew up in the DeBartolo family. Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Eddie DeBartolo Jr., who owned the 49ers for more than two decades, was York’s uncle.
Both men grew up around the 49ers.
“I remember Jed,” Ed said. “He was the little guy running around all the time. Oddly enough, we did go to Mooney, not only do we have that in common, but we both went to Notre Dame. We found out several years later not only did we live in the same dorm, but we lived in the exact same dorm room.
“We share a lot of experiences.”
Policy learned life lessons in the late 1980s from Bucci. The hard work and perseverance of being with a state-caliber team like the Cardinals made him learn perseverance.
“There’s a toughness you learn,” Policy said. “You never quit. That’s not an option on his squad. It goes back to that Youngstown and Cardinal Mooney work ethic. Playing for coach Bucci was probably the greatest example of how I learned that.”
In York’s biography on the 49ers website, he “credits his parents, his uncle Eddie, and his grandfather Edward DeBartolo, Sr. as being positive role models and for teaching him character values such as integrity, a strong work ethic, and respect for others.”
Bob Lange, 49ers vice president of communications, said that with the 49ers being the host team today, York was swamped with engagements and responsibilities for the next three days and was unable to be interviewed for this story.
Carmen Policy didn’t move from Youngstown to San Francisco full-time until Ed was a freshman at Notre Dame, making the long commute prior to that. Weekdays, late in the evening, was when Ed and Carmen could converse with one another. Ed was getting home late from football practices, while Carmen spent a good portion of his day with the 49ers.
“I remember on weekdays I’d get to catch up with him over late dinners at home as I would get home from practice and he’d get home from work,” Ed said.
According to his 49ers bio, York is the oldest child of Denise (DeBartolo) and John York, co-chairmen of the San Francisco franchise. Eddie DeBartolo Jr. served as Jed’s mentor.
York began his career as a financial analyst at Guggenheim Partners, a diversified financial services firm. York has been with the 49ers for 15 years and 10 as CEO.
Policy took a different direction toward the Packers. He went to Stanford University’s law school after Notre Dame, practicing law in San Francisco for less than a decade.
Policy yearned to follow his father’s path in the sporting realm. That’s when he met current NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, at that time an up-and-coming executive with the league.
The NFL was working with a then-thriving Arena Football League in the early 2000s. The AFL moved its offices from Chicago to New York, to be closer to the NFL, which bought almost half of the equity in the indoor league.
Pro Football Hall of Fame president David Baker was the AFL commissioner at the time. Policy, who thought he would spend a couple of years with this league and then move into the NFL offices, spent the 2000s with the AFL.
“The thinking was they wanted to turn the Arena Football League into more of the media product, kind of the way the NFL is,” Policy said. “They wanted them to be in New York where they’re closer with all the big media companies.”
Policy said he received a call from an executive headhunter firm representing the Packers. Policy knew of team CEO and president Mark Murphy. The firm reached out to Policy. He and Murphy met, and Policy has been with the Packers since August 2012.
Policy has future aspirations in the NFL.
“I would like to at some point be the president and CEO of an NFL club or a very high-level position in the league office,” Policy said. “I love the NFL. I love the product. I love the game. I would love to stay in the NFL and keep progressing to the point where I’m running a club or at a very senior level at the league.”
It’s more than York and Policy who came from an environment that challenged a person academically and athletically.
“I have great friends from Cardinal Mooney,” Policy said. “I don’t know that I appreciated it as much when I was there as when I was newly graduated from Mooney. Once you get out of Youngstown and into the real world, you realize how well Mooney and Youngstown in general prepare you for the real world.
“I think people from Youngstown, and Mooney in particular, have a tremendous work ethic and tend to treat other people extremely well. You’re brought up in that environment. That’s kind of what you know and what you do. You get outside of that environment and the rest of the world isn’t always like that. I feel very fortunate to be from there.”
It’s about being part of the Cardinal Mooney family.
“The funny thing is throughout the NFL it has a little bit of a reputation for that,” Policy said. “I run into scouts from other teams, assistant coaches from other teams or anybody who spent any time in college, scouting high school players. They’re familiar with Mooney, maybe with the football program, primarily. They’re always like, ‘Oh, you’re a Mooney guy. You Mooney guys stick together.’
“It’s got a great reputation for that.”