CANTON, Ohio (WYTV) – Youngstown native Eddie DeBartolo Jr. is one day away from being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
His enshrinement comes after years of waiting and campaigning from former 49ers and soon-to-be Hall of Famers.
On Saturday, he will be inducted for his 24 years and five Super Bowl victories with the San Francisco 49ers.
Debartolo says he is honored to make it into the Hall of Fame. He says that the creation of a “special contributors” category is what helped him get in.
He, along with five other inductees including Brett Favre, met with reporters Friday afternoon for about 45 minutes in a section of Canton McKinley High School.
DeBartolo talked about a number of topics, including his time as the owner of the 49ers, saying people probably wondered what he was doing for the first couple of years.
He also talked about his father, the late Edward DeBartolo Senior.
“He had a work ethic that he taught us and taught everybody that worked for our company that was just unbelievable.”
DeBartolo mentioned his friends from the Cardinal Mooney Class of 1964.
“I’ve seen these guys now, they’re all coming up. Three, or four or five buses coming up tomorrow to the induction, so it’s going to be really exciting and nice.”
The 69-year-old has a ranch in Montana, but makes his home in Tampa. He has a development company that builds mostly apartments and strip plazas.
DeBartolo says he makes it back to Youngstown as much as he can.
“I’m probably going to probably try and get back there after the game.”
On Thursday night, he was greeted by other Hall of Famers as he worked his way to the stage. His daughter, Lisa, slipped the famous gold jacket over her dad’s shoulders. She will also present the award to him Saturday night.
“It’s going to be…I’ve been nervous, just like I was having my kids again. I think I’m more nervous now than I was before any of our Super Bowls. I’m sort of a wreck,” DeBartolo said.
DeBartolo grew up in Boardman. He owned the San Francisco 49ers from 1977 until 2000. During that time, the team won five Super Bowls and went to 10 NFC Championship games.
His sister, Denise DeBartolo York, is owner and co-chair of the 49ers.
Denise’s son and DeBartolo’s nephew, Jed York, runs the team day-to-day as the CEO.
DeBartolo is not the first man from the Mahoning Valley to be enshrined in Canton. Paul Warfield, of Warren, was inducted in 1983.