Big news for San Francisco 49ers fans! Former owner Eddie DeBartolo has taken a huge step toward potential induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Hall announced that DeBartolo has been named a finalist in the contributor category. In the past, contributors and players were lumped together, but last year the league developed a new category specifically for contributors. This past year, Ron Wolf and Bill Polian were inducted as contributors.
DeBartolo has introduced five different Hall of Famers for induction, including Charles Haley this past year. The new contributor category is not a guarantee, but it essentially leap-frogs the normal process. DeBartolo is one of the most successful owners in NFL history, but of course he has to deal with the off-field issues. Well, issue. He was suspended from ownership after a bribery scandal involving the former governor of Louisiana (who is now incarcerated).
DeBartolo has been welcomed back to the NFL, with some thought that he might get involved in ownership with another team. It has never happened, but the fact that the NFL seems OK with that has been a big step forward. DeBartolo needs to get 80 percent of the vote next January in the week leading up to the Super Bowl.