An executive decision to grant clemency has ended decades of waiting for one Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee.
The White House confirmed San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr. and other individuals have been completely pardoned for different offenses they allegedly committed in the past.
“President Donald J. Trump signed executive grants of clemency granting full pardons to the following individuals: Edward DeBartolo, Jr., Michael Milken, Ariel Friedler, Bernard Kerik, Paul Pogue, David Safavian, and Angela Stanton,” the White House said in a statement. “In addition, President Trump signed executive grants of clemency granting commutations to Rod Blagojevich, Tynice Nichole Hall, Crystal Munoz, and Judith Negron.”
The White House recognized DeBartolo Jr. for his role in leading the 49ers to more than a dozen victories despite being sentenced to two years probation due to his failure to report an alleged $400,000 payment to former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards for a riverboat casino license back in 1998. He temporarily stepped down as owner after media reports emerged that he faced being indicted for gambling fraud, paid a $1 million fine and was suspended from professional football for a year.
“During the 23 years that he owned the San Francisco 49ers, the team won an unprecedented 13 division titles and 5 Super Bowl Championships,” the statement said. “DeBartolo did not allow his conviction to define his life … his exceptional compassion and warmth define his character to this day. Mr. DeBartolo treated players and coaches as part of his family.”
Former President Barack Obama and his predecessor George W. Bush had both refused to grant DeBartolo Jr. a pardon even though the football great had already done extensive community work.
“[DeBartolo Jr.] remained a generous philanthropist and passionate supporter of numerous charitable causes, including charter schools like the Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School, and anti-gang violence initiatives,” the White House said. “They have been joined in their support by other notable figures and organizations, including Pastor Darrell Scott, Kareem Lanier, Paul Anka, and the Urban Revitalization Coalition.”
Several National Football League celebrities who advocated for pardoning DeBartolo Jr. took the opportunity to celebrated the decision including Joe Montana, Jim Brown, Jerry Rice, Steve Young, Ronnie Lott, Charles Haley, Derrick Brooks, Fred Dean, Robert Kraft, Jerry Jones, and Roger Goodell.
“I take my hat off to Donald Trump for what he did,” Rice said according to Fox News. “He wanted us to win and I think he is the main reason why we won so many Super Bowls.”
Brown vouched for DeBartolo Jr. as an influential figure and ally of competitive football.
“I am going to make it real simple, Ed DeBartolo is a great man,” Brown said according to the broadcaster. “[He is] a great, great friend of mine and to the league.”