YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Eddie DeBartolo, Jr., who was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August, was honored Wednesday in a ceremony at his alma mater, Cardinal Mooney High School.
Representatives from the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Ford Motor Company presented DeBartolo with a Hometown Hall of Famers Award. He was recognized for his contributions to professional football and Cardinal Mooney.
“Coming to see the students and coming to see the high school — see what great strides they made — I was just blown away,” said DeBartolo, who graduated from Mooney in 1964 and was inducted into the school’s hall of fame in the ’90s.
The Youngstown native made a name for himself in San Francisco with his 23-year tenure as owner of the 49ers (1977-2000), winning five Super Bowls in the process.
Wednesday’s ceremony was officiated by WKBN 27 First News sports reporter Chad Krispinsky, who is also a Mooney graduate. DeBartolo’s family — including sister Denise, Youngstown State president Jim Tressel and President of the Hall of Fame David Baker — all came to help celebrate.
Singer Paul Anka, one of DeBartolo’s best friends, has a concert downtown Wednesday night and said he wouldn’t have missed it for anything.
“He’s a trench player — he’s a brother,” Anka said. “He has the biggest heart in the world and he is so grounded to his friends. His life and the times and the laughs that we spent together in many many places, they’re all a part of my life.”
As a result of the ceremony, Cardinal Mooney will be an official high school of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The plaque that DeBartolo received will be on permanent display at the school.