Greatest NFL owner of all time
- 03-31-2006, 12:10 PM
Greatest NFL owner of all time
Posted on Fri, Mar. 31, 2006
DeBartolo rolled out red carpet
49ER CHAMPIONS HONORED
By Dennis Georgatos
Mercury News Archives
Joe Montana and former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo got a chance to rub shoulders again last weekend in Las Vegas.
LAS VEGAS - Near the end of an extravagant three-day reunion party, the Paris Las Vegas Hotel's ballroom filled with the players, coaches and staff that helped Eddie DeBartolo win five Super Bowls during his ownership of the 49ers.
``Somehow,'' Lisa DeBartolo, the eldest of his three daughters, told the crowd of 500 on Saturday night, ``this feels like a sixth Super Bowl win.''
Certainly, last weekend's $1 million-plus party, paid for and hosted by the former 49ers owner, had a championship look and feel and represented a throwback to the time when lavish celebrations routinely followed a 49ers season.
Together again amid the glittering array of Super Bowl heroes were rival quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young, though they seemed to take pains to avoid each other at the get-together.
Former team president Carmen Policy joined Super Bowl coaches Bill Walsh and George Seifert in attending, along with Jerry Rice and Dwight Clark and Deion Sanders. Bryant Young, the only Super Bowl 49er still playing, also was there with more than 100 other players involved in the titles achieved from the 1981 to 1994 seasons.
``Just fabulous, overwhelming,'' was how Walsh described the weekend. ``There hasn't been an event like this -- ever. Eddie has done it again.''
Said Clark, ``It was like being in a time warp.''
Indeed, it was.
None of the speakers at the principal reunion gatherings -- U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown among them -- mentioned the current 49ers or team owners Denise and John York, who were invited but did not attend.
DeBartolo, who lives in Tampa, Fla., and presides over a real estate development firm, did not publicly discuss his painful parting from the team six years ago. DeBartolo gave up ownership to his sister and her husband after he became entangled in a gambling fraud probe.
The focus instead was on acknowledging and celebrating the championships and thanking the players and coaches and staff who worked to make them possible.
``I wanted to do something for everyone that was so much a part of this magnificent run,'' an emotional DeBartolo said, addressing the dinner gala crowd Saturday.
``Everybody out there, I miss you so much and I love you so much. The memories are there. There are memories that are good and not so good. But that doesn't matter. We achieved this success together, and if I could stand up here 15 years, I couldn't thank you enough for everything that you did for my family.''
The players and other guests felt the same way about DeBartolo, and they, too, came up with a grand gesture of appreciation, presenting him with a new burgundy Mercedes-Benz sedan.
Ronnie Lott and Harris Barton led the appreciation drive for DeBartolo, who got his first look at the $92,000 car when it was driven onto the ballroom floor during the climactic gala. Its license plate read ``5RINGS.''
Feinstein was mayor when the team won its first Super Bowl in January 1982 and she recalled the giddiness, enthusiasm and joy that swept across San Francisco.
``It was as if stardust was sprinkled over the city,'' she said.
``You hear guys say it's not about the ring, but that's what we played for -- to win Super Bowls,'' added Rice, who wore a gold necklace with a Super Bowl ring dangling around it. ``A lot of players never got that opportunity and we were fortunate to win five of them, and it was time to get everybody back together.''
In the works for more than a year, the party included a slot machine tournament, a poker tournament and a golf outing at the Cascata course, one of Las Vegas' most exclusive resorts. Among the three events, tens of thousands of dollars in cash and prizes were distributed to participants.
DeBartolo set aside 300 hotel rooms for his guests and upon check-in presented each of them with $500 in chips, a $300 gift card, a commemorative bottle of wine, shirts and gourmet snacks. He also retained Huey Lewis and the News to provide the entertainment at Saturday's send-off party.
``These guys deserve everything,'' DeBartolo said. ``This is sort of the closing of a chapter in my life. We went through a lot of things together and this is a final testament to friendship, to camaraderie and to great athletes and great coaches.''
The weekend included the unusual sight of Montana as autograph seeker. He and his wife, Jennifer, waited in a line at the Reading Room bookstore at Mandalay Bay hotel to have their copy of ``How to Kill a Rock Star'' signed by Tiffanie DeBartolo, Candy and Eddie DeBartolo's novelist daughter.
Other sightings included Montana dining with Walsh at The Palms; Denver Broncos Coach Mike Shanahan, a former 49ers offensive coordinator, chatting it up with Clark at the Paris' Central bar; and Young and Barton and their wives and children embarking together on a Las Vegas outing.
Rice, fresh from his runner-up finish on television's ``Dancing with the Stars,'' also took a turn on the dance floor with Candy DeBartolo as Jeffrey Osborne crooned during the welcoming ****tail reception March 23.
Nearby, DeBartolo was getting a hug from the houndstooth hat-wearing Sanders, the prime-time acquisition among the dozen free agents DeBartolo signed before the last Super Bowl season in 1994.
Seifert's impromptu ride on the shoulders of former players in the midst of Saturday night's gala at the Concorde Ballroom was another highlight. Minutes earlier, Seifert had related wistfully to the crowd that he was still waiting to be carried off the field Walsh-like after a Super Bowl victory.
``It was a little embarrassing,'' a sheepish Seifert said afterward. ``But I guess if you wait long enough, good things will happen.''
The weekend was full of them.
- 04-01-2006, 04:55 PM
Awesome ! Mr. DeBartolo was the greatest. I still remember the days when everyone wanted to play for the 49ers because the players were taken care of and Super Bowls were the expectation.
- 04-01-2006, 09:22 PM
04-01-2006, 09:42 PM
04-30-2006, 11:30 PM
04-30-2006, 11:48 PM
05-02-2006, 02:31 AM
F*%k Al Davis. 20+ years of consecutive sold out games and the greedy son of a ***** repays the Silver and Black faithful by moving them to LA. I don't care if they are back in Oakland.They never should have left.Originally Posted by smokey the bear
05-02-2006, 02:51 AM
Al Davis is an ass clown, i laugh at all the unfortunate raiders fans here in the sf bay area that have the dillution of the raider ever being a consistant team.Originally Posted by az2u
05-02-2006, 09:55 AM
Originally Posted by LCSULLA
LOL, I remember when he was still in St.Louis, what a jack off.
I was happy to see that team leave, they sucked then and still do.
As long as he's the owner the Cardinals will never be any good, I feel for Leinart.
05-05-2006, 02:29 PM
DeBartolo was great. I thought his crew would do something for the Browns, but I'm still waiting for Bernie and the Miami pipeline to end.
05-06-2006, 12:18 PM
Yeah that crew with Carmen Policy and Dwight Clark wasn't bad, too bad ****ing John York got rid of them along with George Seifert, that was the begining of the end.Originally Posted by BingeAndPurge
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