KEY POINTS

  • Trump met with several former NFL players before announcing the pardon
  • DeBartolo paid $1 million in fines and penalties, and served two years probation
  • DeBartolo turned over control of the team to his sister, Denise York

President Trump signed an executive order granting a full pardon to Edward DeBartolo Jr., the former owner of the San Francisco 49ers, the White House announced Tuesday.

DeBartolo pleaded guilty, served two years probation and paid $1 million in fines and penalties for failing to report former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards allegedly had extorted $400,000 from him for a casino license. He was suspended from the NFL in 1997.

The announcement comes after a meeting between Trump and several retired NFL players – including Jerry Rice, Charles Haley, Ronnie Lott and Jim Brown -- to discuss the case.

“I take my hat off to Donald Trump for what he did,” Rice told a brief press gathering called to announce the pardon. He described DeBartolo as the “12th man that was on that football field.”

“We are excited to be here for all the right reasons,” Lott added. “You think of people who find their ways into your life to help you, deliver a certain compass. You find yourself realizing that a day like this is great because of the fact that he [DeBartolo] understands his compass, but what you can achieve. So really excited for Mr. DeBartolo for what he’s done for all of us.”

DeBartolo owned the 49ers between 1977 and 2000, and entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016. He turned the team into a powerhouse in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, winning five Super Bowls but  turned over management of the team to his sister, Denise York, after his conviction.

DeBartolo was a featured guest at one of Trump’s 2017 inauguration parties, USA Today reported.

Testimony that preceded DeBartolo’s guilty plea indicated he first resisted Edwards’ approach for two years but then agreed to pay the money for a riverboat license. He was first approached by Edwards in 1994. DeBartolo withdrew from the project after being subpoenaed by a grand jury investigating the deal.

Edwards was a longtime friend of the DeBartolo family. DeBartolo said after his court appearance he had been victimized by Edwards.