One of the nicest moments as a 49ers fan occurred at halftime on a scorching hot day at Candlestick on Sept. 20.
That's when Eddie DeBartolo Jr. was the first 49er to be inducted into the Eddie De Bartolo Sr. Hall of Fame.
When DeBartolo Jr. was introduced, the 49er Faithful chanted "Ed-Dee," "Ed-Dee."
We only became quiet out of respect for DeBartolo Jr.; otherwise, we would have chanted this great man's name the entire halftime.
It was the perfect tribute to junior and senior.
On Bill Walsh Field.
Without DeBartolo Sr. purchasing the team, his son would never have had the opportunity to make the Eddie De Bartolo Jr.-led 49ers the best franchise run in the NFL's history.
No other NFL owner has equalled what DeBartolo Jr. has done:
- Five Super Bowl victories in five Super Bowl appearances.*
- The first single owner designee to win five Super Bowls*
- 12 Division Titles
Those stats are worthy, indeed; however, the DeBrtolo Jr.-led 49ers did more than that for The City by the bay:
- Dethroning the Landry-led Dallas Cowboys
- Putting an end to the then-Los Angeles Rams' domination of the NFL West, illustrated when Ken Norton Jr. punched a goal post in Anaheim en route to another punishing victory over the Rams
The 49ers Website featured a great story on the induction:
“He was an owner when he got here, but through his leadership became a family,” said former 49ers wide receiver Dwight Clark. “The more you were around him; you didn’t want to let him down. He did so much for you that you wanted to play your heart out for him.
“I got into a fight one time against Buffalo and I remember coming in the locker room and he was the first one there. He was grabbing me by the shoulder pads and I thought he was going to yell at me, but he was saying, ‘Thanks for fighting for me out there!’
“Well, I was fighting every week from then on.”
DeBartolo Jr.'s impact on players was dramatic.
“He was like the 12th man on the football field,” the 49ers Website quoted former 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice as saying. “He always greeted us after football games. I would remember, win or lose, he would always greet us.”
I remember the story that DeBartolo Jr. missed The Catch because he was on the field and could not see it.
That's the kind of owner he was.
At that time, few owners ever ventured on to the field, if memory serves me correctly.
When DeBartolo spoke at halftime, he noted that it may be the last time he appeared at Candlestick with so many 49ers legends accompanying him.
It was a poignant moment for me, having followed the 49ers for approximately 45 years.
From the time I dressed up in 49ers gear as a young boy to go at my Los Angeles Rams-loving brother (bless his sorry soul, and may God forgive him for being a Rams fan), I've been a Faithful.
And Eddie DeBartolo Jr. more than paid back loyal fans like me.
“You are not my 49ers Faithful,” DeBartolo said at halftime. “You are my 49ers family!”
And you, Eddie D., are family to us!
Thank you for the greatest run in NFL history.
Thank you for the energy, enthusiasm, love and pursuit of excellence you brought to The City.
We'll never forget you.
(I recommend reading the entire story about DeBartolo Jr. on the 49ers Website. There also is a shorter story.The photo shows Carmen Policy with DeBartolo Jr. Policy played an integral part in the 49ers success.)
*The Steelers won six Super Bowls under two different owners, although the family was the same.
The Dallas Cowboys won five Super Bowls under two owners.
Additionally, the 49ers are the only NFL team to have won five out of five Super Bowls.
The Cowboys had losses prior to their fifth Lombardi, and the Steelers had one loss.