President Donald Trump has signed an executive order granting clemency to Eddie DeBartolo Jr. the former San Francisco 49ers owner, who bought the outfit in 1977.
Debartolo who went on to achieve five Super Bowl wins as the owner of the NFL franchise in the 1980s and 1990s, pleading guilty to failing to report a crime in 1998 after former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards, reportedly extorted $400,000 from him to secure a casino licence.
DeBartolo’s plea saw him escape time in prison. Nevertheless, he agreed to pay $1 m in fines, serve two years of probation, and participate in future trials against both the ex-Governor and his son who established key targets in the state gambling industry in a federal probe.
Additionally, the former owner was fined by the NFL and pressured for a year to relinquish active control of the 49ers, with DeBartolo eventually ceding control of the franchise to his sister in the year 2000 following his year away.
Earlier this week, with NFL stars including Jerry Rice, Jim Brown, Ronnie Lott and Charles Haley were all present, the announcement of DeBartolo’s pardon was made at the White House.
Former 49ers wide receiver Rice spoke about what the former owner accomplished both on and off the field, saying: “I think with Eddie and what he has accomplished, what he has done on the football field, off the football field a lot of charity work so we talked about that,”
“We talked about just being great. You know, trying to be the greatest of all time. And you know, I take my hat off for Donald Trump and what he did.
“[Eddie] is the main reason why we won so many Super Bowls, so today is a great day for him. I’m glad to be here and be a part of that. It’s just something I will never forget. This man, he has done so much in the community, has done so much in NFL football.”
In 2016, DeBartolo was named in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.