President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order granting clemency for a full pardon for former 49ers owner Edward J. DeBartolo Jr.
In 1998, DeBartolo pleaded guilty to one felony charge of failing to report an alleged extortion attempt by former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards in connection with DeBartolo’s bid for a riverboat gambling license.
The White House held a brief press event Tuesday to announce the pardon. Former 49ers Jerry Rice, Charles Haley, Ronnie Lott, all of whom are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Jim Brown attended. The four said they met with Trump to discuss DeBartolo, NBC News reported.
"Today is a great day for him," Rice said. "I'm glad to be here and be a part of that. And you know, it's just something I'll never forget. You know, this man, he has done so much in the community, he has done so much in NFL football."
"I take my hat off to Donald Trump for what he did," Rice said.
DeBartolo, 73, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016. Under DeBartolo's control, the 49ers won Super Bowls following the 1981, '84, '88, '89 and '94 seasons.
It’s a good day for Mr. D. The man has done more than most anyone for kids in the Bay Area and in Tampa Bay. His numerous contributions to the game of football are well known. We are all happy for him. He is family.— Ronnie Lott (@RonnieLottHOF) February 18, 2020
The NFL ordered DeBartolo to pay a $1 million fine and he was suspended for the 1999 season. DeBartolo never regained control of the 49ers, as he reached a settlement to transfer the organization to his sister, Denise DeBartolo York, and her husband, John York.
As part of a plea agreement, DeBartolo avoided jail time but served two years of probation and testified against Edwards during the 2000 trial.
DeBartolo pleaded guilty to a felony charge of failing to report Edwards extorted $400,000 from him to win a casino license.
In 2017, Trump tweeted that DeBartolo and his wife, Candy, were among the hosts of a pre-inauguration event in Washington.