Talk of Fame Network
Former 49ers’ owner Eddie DeBartolo has been to Hall-of-Fame ceremonies before …but never as an inductee.
DeBartolo has served as a presenter for five Hall of Famers, including Charles Haley last summer — and if you think that number is high, you’re right. Only Al Davis and Paul Brown have made more. But now that he’s returning to Canton, this time as the contributor member of the Hall-of-Fame’s Class of 2016, there’s a logical question.
Who presents DeBartolo for his place in football immortality?
“Well,” he said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast, “it was really easy … but very tough. I presented Joe (Montana) and. God rest his soul, Bill Walsh. If Bill was alive it would have been a decision that would have been difficult … and probably would have been Bill. But I decided with the people I did induct … and, obviously, Joe Montana is a close, dear friend of mine; in fact (I talked to him last week) … but I decided that, rather than try and wade through a lot of things and maybe hurt feelings or do this or do that, I thought the best decision would be my eldest daughter Lisa Marie.”
DeBartolo has three children, all daughters.
Chosen on his fourth try as a finalist, DeBartolo’s selection came at the right time and right location. It was the day prior to Super Bowl 50, hosted by the San Francisco Bay Area and played in the 49ers’ home, Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
For that reason, he was understandably anxious in the days preceding the Feb. 6 Hall-of-Fame vote, admitting that “I was a nervous wreck that whole week. I had anxiety attacks and panic attacks and everything that goes along with it.”
In the end, of course, it worked out – but only after a 50-minute discussion of the Hall’s voters, the longest debate of that day.
“I still can’t put it into words,” he said. “It’s beyond my comprehension. It was just sort of a culmination of many, many years and all those emotions. I cried like a baby along with my wife.”