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Eddie DeBartolo talks Super Bowls, Hall of Fame, and his decision to walk away from the San Francisco 49ers

Eddie DeBartolo had a conference call with Bay Area media regarding his selection as a finalist into the Hall of Fame. Here is the entire transcript. Note: It seems like the audio begins a bit late in the interview as they are talking about winning Super Bowl XIX. Whatever they were talking about, it currently is unavailable.

On memories of Super Bowl XIX (held in Stanford Stadium) and which ones jump out on that Super Bowl in particular.

Well obviously, that game, it was, I don't know, it was a sort of a crazy situation, that the reason why we played there and everything else. You were dealing with a team that had a quarterback, and Dan [Former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino] is a very good friend of mine who, him and his receivers, were setting records all over the place. We had a very good team, I was obviously concerned like I was before every Super Bowl. I knew they were good but I knew we were good too. At that time  we were able to go out and get players. I remember, I think we had three all-pro nose tackles on the team. We were recruiting guys and our defense was just devastating. Obviously, our offense was great, that was before Jerry [49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice], but we had a really good offense. It was something, it was more of a media attraction. I think that was the first really big media attraction that the Super Bowl really got, with us playing on the west coast and playing "at home" and the Dolphins, obviously a great team, great season, coming out there with high credentials. So it was really something, but I have a picture that I'm looking at right now in my office. I don't know if any of you gentlemen have ever seen it, but it's a picture of Bill Walsh just before taking the team out for the coin flip. He's laying down on the floor against a duffle bag. Does anyone ever remember that picture.?

A few "yes's" from reporters

It was a good game, it got out of hand, and we played a tremendous game against a really good football team.

On Bill Walsh and what made him so successful in Super Bowls

Well, honestly, I don't limit it to Super Bowls. He shined in big games, but he also did on Sunday games. The man was a genius. You can look at our tree, I've done that many times and it continues to grow, grow, and  grow. You can look at Gary Kubiak coming into the Super Bowl, I think Ray Brown is on the Carolina staff, but you can look through the league and see what this man did and the way he was able to get coaches. I think his ability, they called him a genius, it's hard to call people a genius, but he was. I don't think there was anybody that was ever able to go in at halftime and make adjustments to a readjustment if there is such a thing. And you know he just seemed to be able to know what the other team was about to do. That didn't always mean we were going to be victorious, but we sure had a leg up on the other team with his mind, because he was just unbelievable, he was a teacher, he was a coach, and just a great, great, great, friend and mentor.

On his generosity as a spender and amenities to the team and if he ever got push-backs from his father and the DeBartolo corporation

No. I actually never did. The only thing we had, way back in 1979, my father wasn't, we talked about it, obviously we were very close  talked about Bill Walsh, he wasn't quite sold on him, and I had been following him at Stanford. And I remember watching him on New Year's eve. I think it was the Bluebonnet Bowl, I'm not sure , when they made quite a comeback. And that was the only time that we ever did anything that he wasn't quite sure of. We discussed it and I was pretty adamant about it. The only other time that we discussed anything was when, and I don't know what year it was, but when we went ahead and transferred the team into the corporation, which I guess is what everyone has done now. We may have not done it the way it should have been done, but obviously everyone has their teams in LLCs or corporations. We just went about our business and I then I just tried to emulate what transpired over decades and decades from the  30s and 40s on and the way our people were treated in the company. At one time we had  17 or 18,000 employees. Anybody that ever had a problem, anybody that wanted to talk. Anybody whose family or wife had a problem or their child, we were always there for them. I tried to do that for the 49ers.

On what Roger Craig showed him on that day at Stanford and how it moved him forward:

Well you know, Roger obviously, you know again, nowadays these franchises have, tens of tens of people in their front office. Back then, we had a handful of people. We had John McVeigh, we had Bill Walsh, we had our pro and our college scouting people and Bill knew what he wanted. We got both Roger and Tommy Rathman from Nebraska and he loved Roger. He loved his versatility I don't know if he caught that many passes  in college, but he knew what he could do when he came to the pros. Roger gave us a different dimension. Back then, with the slashing and cut fullback like Tommy Rathman, Roger being able to not only run off tackle or run up the middle, but to go out and catch these square passes and be able to do what he did. I'll never forget that game. I don't know, you guys are way younger than I am but that game against the Rams on Monday night when he went crazy I don't know if that will ever be done again. He had a night. He and John Taylor both had a night for the ages.

On if he thinks back on how close the 1984 team came to having a perfect season, only to lose their one game to Pittsburgh:

Truthfully, I've talked to Danny Rooney and to Artie too over the years, about that game. That game was something that was unbelievable. I think if you remember correctly, I don't know who the running back was, but there was something happening in that game. There was a kickoff or a punt, that one of their players did not cover. And we recovered the ball. And it was a live ball and I think he thought it was a dead ball, and it was a really good player, does anyone remember who that was?

"No's" from the reporters

You know when it comes down to that, that would have been something, being undefeated. You know, stuff happens, it happens for a reason. We had a great season and we had a great team. This was before all these rules were in there, my God, we had people  on top of people there. Like I said, I think we had three all pro nose tackles.They were in and out with the other defensive lineman. But, I don't know, it was quite a team. I keep saying it was probably our best team, but I'm not quite sure about that. That team we fielded that played and beat Denver 55-10 was an awfully good team.

On logistics on where he's going to be when the vote is going down. And where he was in previous years when he didn't get the call he wanted:

Well it is an emotional thing. When you're talking about something like the NFL Hall of Fame, this is something that is hard to get out of your mind, but it's hard to realize too. You're talking about immortals. I don't want to get crazy about this, but the people that are in that Hall of Fame for our sport, for the sport that I was in for so many years and for the sport that they succeeded in, those men are immortals that are inducted in that Hall of Fame. They will be there forever in Canton Ohio, They all deserved it, they all worked hard. You know what? It would be the culmination to me of everything's that good, that's happened over my lifetime as an owner. And there were bad times and there were good times. There were times when there were tears and there times when there were smiles and laughs. But that's all part of life and all part of living. All I can do is hope and pray that i can join these people and join these great athletes. Like I said earlier, I have great respect for the voters and that is in their hands it certainly isn't in my hands. I'll just have to sit back and hope that something good happens and if it doesn't, I have to go on with my life and just, you know, live. Life is too important to not take each day as it comes and live your life.

How much did it hurt personally when the 49ers were taken away from him:

Well we don't have a whole lot of time, but truthfully, the team really wasn't taken away from me. I think it's been a misnomer for many many years.  Commissioner Tagliabue did obviously suspend me, but as I was going through negotiations with my family and we went through these negotiations and we went through them with lawyers, obviously and with a judge in Akron, Ohio. It did not come down to that team being taken, it came down to a decision that had to be made whether or not I wanted the 49ers or whether or not I wanted to take the other part of the company. And I figured at that time, and my sister Denise [49ers owner Denise York] was involved totally as was her family. I decided in that meeting in Akron Ohio, that I thought it would be best that I took the other side and my tenure with the 49ers would end then and end there. I don't know if that story has ever been told, it may have been, it may have not been. But, it really was a choice, I figured there was more to do with my life at that time. I had succeeded and done a lot with the 49ers. It meant the world to me, but I figured with my daughters, with them getting older and obviously with all of us getting older and having grandchildren at the time, and them planning on families, that it would be best for me to do what was best to be a good grandfather, be a good husband and dad, and do what I want to do and maybe travel a little bit and spend more time with my family.

On how hard it was not being around the game as closely:

Absolutely, I may have regretted it for awhile. I said this before, when I inducted Joe [former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana] into the hall of fame, we were riding in the car in the parade and I said to Joe, "You miss this? do you ever really get over this? What do you do cuz there's times I'm watching the team and I'm living and dying, there's successes and failures and I really miss it, how do you overcome that, what do you do?" and I'll never forget; he turned to me and he said, "You know, there's only one way, you got to put football in your rear view mirror, and life will take care of itself after that." did.

On conversations with Jed about changes with the team:

I talk to Jed, I don't know time-wise, he called me and told me he was going to let Jim Tomsula go, and he told me at the time they would be on a coaching search, we talked about a couple of coaches that he was talking about. We talked for quite awhile, and I told him he needed to follow his best instincts. I didn't give him my opinion as to what he should do, because it's really not my place to discuss the current team. I had my time and now it's Jed's time. I talked to him. I was a sounding board, I am his godfather and I am his uncle and I will always wish the best for him, his family and the organization, but he's got to make these decisions himself. And obviously he made this decision with Chip Kelly and hopefully it's going to turn out to be a great decision.

On if he thinks he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame:

That's a really difficult question. I think I gave my all to my position and my ownership. There's different philosophies know that a lot teams are doing things now like we did, many many years ago, somebody told me  yesterday that my friend Jerry Richardson was flying his  players' wives and the organization out to San Francisco, and I kinda chuckled a little bit because we did that 1981. Do I belong? That's not a decision of mine. If my credentials say I belong and if the people believe like I believe that I did the best that I could do to run a franchise to win five super bowls and  earn the love of my players and of the fans and do what I thought best for the city of San Francisco with that franchise and for the NFL, then I guess that decision will have to be made by those gentleman in that room. I can't say yes or no. Alll  I can say, again, just to be in the position that I am in, I am absolutely honored and humbled beyond recognition.

Has he played in the AT&T (golf tournament)

I sure did, I played for about six or seven years.

Plans to come back?

I dunno, they'd have to invite me to come back. I haven't been invited back, but it was great, I really, really enjoyed it. I played with Rodger Maltbie, the last four or five years. I played with a couple of other people before then. Rodger is a dear friend of mine. We had a lot of fun, I'm not a very good golfer and I 'm not sure if I should be playing because my back acts up now and then with my disc and my neck is a little bit sore. I guess all that happens when you get a bit older. I'm hoping to make another.