Packer backer fired for wearing Green Bay tie
BY KIM JANSSEN Staff Reporter January 25, 2011 12:40PM
John Stone of Chicago was fired Monday, January 24, 2011, from Webb Chevrolet in Oak Lawn for wearing this Packers tie to work. | Jean Lachat~Sun-Times
Updated: January 25, 2011 4:46PM
With Chicago reeling from Sunday’s painful playoff loss, Monday morning probably wasn’t the best time for car salesman John Stone to share his love for the Green Bay Packers with co-workers and customers.
But Stone, 34, proudly showed up for work at Webb Chevrolet in south suburban Oak Lawn wearing his green-and-yellow Packers necktie anyway.
Now he’s former car salesman John Stone.
The morning after the Chicago Bears’ hated rivals beat them at Soldier Field to advance to the Super Bowl, Webb’s general manager Jerry Roberts says he fired Stone for refusing to remove the Packers-branded tie.
The facts aren’t in dispute, only the appropriateness of the novelty neckwear.
“He said, ‘You have two options,’ ” a furious Stone said later Monday. “Remove the tie, or you’re fired.”
“When I didn’t, he said, ‘You can leave, you’re fired.’ Does that sound fair to you?”
Stone, a father of two who had worked at Webb Chevrolet for a month-and-a-half, grew up in Chicago’s Roseland community but said he’s supported the Packers since he first saw former running back Ahman Green play.
“I liked the way he played, and I liked Brett Favre before he left, and I love Aaron Rodgers, the coaching staff — the whole organization,” he said.
“I was just showing my love for my team and it was a nice, smart tie that matched my clothes — none of the customers minded: they had a sense of humor about it.”
Roberts agreed that no customers had complained about the tie when Stone was asked to remove it at 10:30 a.m., and that Stone was a good salesman who sold 14 cars last month.
But he said the tie was “salting the wounds” of Bears fans including himself and that it “makes it harder to sell cars in what’s already a competitive sales environment.”
“We spend $20,000 a month on advertising with the Bears on WBBM during the season, and we have Bears players including Corey Wootten driving loaner vehicles, and here was a salesman openly undoing that work.”
The deals with the Bears include Webb sponsoring the “Most Valuable Bear” award handed out after every game and a loaner vehicle for announcer Jeff Joniak, Roberts said.
Stone was offered five chances to take off the tie, but chose not to, he said, adding “If he loves the tie more than his job, he’s welcome to keep wearing it — elsewhere.”
For his part, Stone complains that he often wore the tie, which he bought three years ago at Wal-Mart, in his former job at a Dodge dealership.
But, said Roberts, context is everything. “If he’d worn the tie on Saturday I wouldn’t have minded.”
And what if the Bears had won?
“I suspect he wouldn’t have worn the tie.”