The odds are pretty good for the man they call Mr D. this weekend. Anyone named a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame twice, has an 89% chance of eventually getting in. Eddie DeBartolo Junior has been a finalist four times. Saturday, on the eve of Super Bowl 50…a game being played in San Francisco…DeBartolo will find out if he’s getting that call to Canton.
“Well kind of the first thing I think of with Ed Debartolo Jr. is he was a unique owner,” said Joe Horrigan. the Executive Vice President Museums, Selection Process & Chief Communications Officer of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “It’s kind of hard to put him in context of what we think of owners today, because truly Ed DeBartolo was a sportsman first.”
Winning was the business model for Eddie DeBartolo Junior. During his 23 years as owner of the San Francisco 49ers, business was good. The team won an NFL record 239 games though the 1980’s and 1990’s…and five Super Bowls under his leadership. But his family-like relationship with his players may be his legacy.
“I think that was always the case with Ed. He really did believe in community, he believed in team, he believed in sportsmanship, winning was important, and he did what he would do to make that happen,” Horrigan added.
Under his leadership, five players have already been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, the latest being Charles Haley, who used the big stage last year to endorse Eddie DeBartolo Junior for this year’s class.
“When you think about hall of famers, you think about winning. Mr D,” Haley said at last year’s induction ceremony. “He won five Super Bowls. He presented five players. I won five. You know, if the standard is winning, why is he not here?”
Hall of Fame voting begins early Saturday morning and will conclude with announcements early Saturday evening.
“When i think about when people call someone out from the enshrinement stage and say you should be here, or I look forward to the day you are here, it happens frequently, but it happens consistently with Ed DeBartolo Junior,” Horrigan explained. “And it’s not always his players. There are players that didn’t even play for him, and that’s the real measure, when other players are looking and saying I wish I would have played for that guy. That’s the sound you want to hear.”