Eddie D in the Running for Hall of Fame

By Joe Kukura
|  Sunday, Dec 5, 2010  |  Updated 9:30 AM PDT
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Eddie D in the Running for Hall of Fame

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SAN FRANCISCO - AUGUST 10: Former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo speaks during a public memorial service for former 49ers coach Bill Walsh August 10, 2007 at Monster Park in San Francisco, California. NFL Hall of Famer Bill Walsh, who was known by many as "The Genius" for leading the San Francisco 49ers to three Super Bowl championships, died last week at the age of 75 after a long battle with leukemia. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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The announcement brought joy from the windy shores of Candlestick Park to the slush-covered windshields of Youngstown, Ohio -- former 49ers owner Edward J. "Eddie" DeBartolo, Jr. has been named one of the 26 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2011.

DeBartolo owned the 49ers from 1977 to 2000, before ceding control of the organization to his sister Denise. DeBartolo is known for such innovations as hring the architects of the West Coast Offense, paying for players' families' travel, and the circumventing of the salary cap.

DeBartolo lost the 49ers in a plea arrangement after a 1998 incident wherein he admitted bribing the Louisiana with a briefcase full of $400,000 in cash.

Former Mercury News writer Ann Killion makes Eddie's case rather eloquently in Sports Illustrated.

"DeBartolo was -- by any standard -- one of the landmark owners in NFL history," writes Ms. Killion. "He was the man behind the NFL's most concentrated dynasty: five Super Bowl championships in 14 years. He set the modern day standard for travel, facilities, and compensation. He hired the transcendent Bill Walsh. His players loved him. Other players wanted to play for him."

Thus far, no Pro Football Hall of Fame voters have reported receiving a mysterious briefcase full of $400,000 in cash.

Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who'd be highly amused if the Hall of Fame puts Eddie's bust right next to Al Davis'.

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