President Donald Trump pardoned Edward DeBartolo Jr., former owner of the San Francisco 49ers, a team in the NFL, the White House announced on Tuesday.
DeBartolo Jr., 73, bought the professional football team in 1977 and served as the teams chief executive officer. The 49ers went on to win five Super Bowls in the 1980s and DeBartolo Jr. was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.
The owner gained a reputation as a “players owner” who “created a first-class atmosphere and infused the roster with talent,” the Hall of Fame, based in Ohio, said on its website.
The team averaged 13 wins per season from 1981 to 1998 and appeared in the playoffs in 16 seasons, making the NFC championship 10 times. “Aside from his role with the team, DeBartolo Jr.was highly respected inside NFL circles and served on the leagues realignment and expansion committees,” the Hall of Fame stated.
DeBartolo Jr. pleaded guilty to failure to report that Louisianas former governor extorted $400,000 from him in return for a casino license. DeBartolo was fined $1 million and suspended for a year. He gave the team over to his sister and never returned as the teams owner.
The White House announced Bartolos pardon to reporters on Tuesday morning. Among the people present was Jerry Rice, a former NFL star who credited DeBartolo Jr. with giving him the opportunity to play football with the 49ers.
“It was all about family. Thats really what they stood for. And thats the reason why I think we won so many championships,” Rice, a former wide receiver, told reporters.
“Eddie was like that 12th man that was on that football field. You know that this guy, you know, he wanted us to win. And I think hes the main reason why we won so many Super Bowls. So today is a great day for him,” Rice said.
“Im glad to be here and be a part of that. And, you know, its just something Ill never forget. You know, this man, he has done so much in the community, he has done so much in NFL football.”
Rice said Trump told him the pardon was about DeBartolo Jr. and his accomplishments.