President Donald Trump had a surprise for everyone on Tuesday when it was announced he had pardoned former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr.
Trump’s pardon stems from DeBartolo’s involvement in the 1998 corruption case of former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards. DeBartolo was seeking a riverboat gambling license and Edwards demanded payment of $400,000 for it, one of the many things for which Edwards was on trial.
That incident was a felony, and DeBartolo pleaded guilty to failing to report a felony in exchange for his testimony against Edwards. DeBartolo was also fined $1 million and given two years of probation, and the NFL suspended him for one year.
DeBartolo, 73, owned the 49ers for 23 years, and during his tenure he built the team into a dynasty. In the span of 14 years, his 49ers won five Super Bowls and played in nine NFC championship games.
Ownership of the team passed to DeBartolo’s sister following the corruption scandal. In a 2016 interview, DeBartolo said that he gave up ownership of the team voluntarily, and was not forced to do so by the NFL.
Trump announced DeBartolo’s pardon in front of several former NFL stars, including 49ers legend Jerry Rice. In response to the pardon, Rice told White House reporters "I take my hat off to Donald Trump for what he did.”
A few NFL all timers at the White House today, as President Trump announced an executive action granting full pardon to Edward Debartolo Jr. pic.twitter.com/Kf6HdWWa7u
— Skyler Henry (@SkylerHenry) February 18, 2020
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