SANTA CLARA (KPIX 5) — On the field, football the San Francisco 49ers have 11 players on defense, but off the field, 34-year-old Hannah Gordon is the one protecting the red and gold. She is the team’s general counsel.
Gordon, now in her sixth season with the team, was named General Counsel in February after previously serving as Vice President of Legal and Government Affairs.
“I don’t find it intimidating as much as I find it exciting,” said Gordon. “The franchise that I work for, we are one of the most storied franchises in the NFL.”
Anything that touches the team or the stadium has go through her, and its not an eight-hour-a-day, punch-the-clock job.
“You spend nine-to-five in meetings and then you have to actually start doing work.”
Gordon’s passion for sports began at UCLA where she got her start as a sports writer for “The Daily Bruin” and carried on with jobs at the University of California, Berkeley and with the Oakland Raiders.
She was ready to dive into the world of sports media until she met a woman who would become her mentor: Amy Trask. At the time, Trask was the general manager for the Raiders, and was deemed one of the most powerful women in the National Football League.
“She never wanted to focus on her gender,” said Gordon. “She just wanted to be the best at what she does, which is always what I wanted to be, too.”
Gordon would go on to graduate from Stanford Law School in 2008 and then made the jump to working for the NFL. Her first big case? The 2011 NFL lockout.
“It’s not a good place to be in collective bargaining but it’s also a once-in-a-30-year experience that you can get as a lawyer working on something that complex and interesting,” she said.
Gordon’s work earned her the nickname, “Queen of the Lockout.”
“It gave me exposure to a lot of different clubs,” she said. “It gave me a ton of experience in a short amount of time and probably lead to (49ers executive) Paraag Marathe giving me a call one day to ask me if I would like to come interview here.”
Gordon is a leader in a league that doesn’t exactly have a great track record with women. Today more than ever, domestic violence and other criminal cases involving NFL players are at the forefront of media coverage. Despite this trend, she is continually inspired to offer her input, striving to help guide the league in a positive direction.
“It’s a huge privilege to have a seat at the table to even talk about those issues and its really an opportunity for all of us,” said Gordon. “The issues that we are facing with our team are the same issues we are facing in all of our communities.”
Even though Gordon is often the only woman in many of her meetings, she never once felt like she was there because of her gender.
“I do not want to be the best female lawyer in the NFL, but the best lawyer in the NFL.”