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Eddie DeBartolo Jr. Owned The Team During The Glory Years
Eddie DeBartolo Jr. owned the San Francisco 49ers for 23 years, beginning in 1977. During his run as the 49er owner, the team won five Super Bowls.
The first two years of DeBartolo's reign were putrid as he hired Joe Thomas to run the team. The 49ers floundered as Thomas gutted the team and never rebuilt it. In 1977 and '78, the 49ers had a record of 7-23. Thomas was fired after the 1978 season and DeBartolo's next move would prove to be a stroke of genius.
In 1979, Bill Walsh took over as head coach of the 49ers and the team went 2-14, the same as in the prior year. However, Walsh was beginning to build a foundation and in 1980, the 49ers improved to 6-10, as Joe Montana took over during the season as the starting quarterback.
The 1981 season saw everything come together perfectly as Montana and Walsh led the 49ers to their first Super Bowl title.
Eddie DeBartolo's tenure as the owner of the 49ers was a time of luxury and extravagance for the players, as long as they performed well. Star players from other teams would come to the 49ers as free agents, just for the opportunity to play for this great franchise and the chance to win a world championship.
It seemed as though money was no object to DeBartolo, as long as the 49ers won. the It was during these years that the NFL instituted the salary cap, or as some would call it, "The DeBartolo Rule."
DeBartolo would take his players and their wives or girlfriends on lavish trips, following a Super Bowl victory. Players and their significant other's were showered with expensive gifts, and DeBartolo was widely known as the most generous owner in pro football.
The 49ers flourished under his control and went on to win five Super Bowls. His passion for 49ers was always evident.
Unfortunately, the lustre faded and DeBartolo was forced to cede control of the team to his sister Denise and her husband John York following the 1999 season. The 49ers have never been back to the Super Bowl.
Eddie was involved in a felony corruption case involving former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards, bribery and a riverboat casino gaming license. After several years away from the team he loved, DeBartolo has been seen more frequently at 49er reunions and team events.
It was during Eddie's ownership that the 49ers saw unparalleled success and had two decades of outstanding football. Eddie's nephew, Jed York, now runs the team and seems to have the same passion for the 49ers as his uncle. Time will tell if he can bring the 49ers back to glory. .