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‘Eddie D’ punches ticket to NFL Hall of Fame

Former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame today, hall of fame officials said.

DeBartolo owned the 49ers from 1977 until 2000, during which time the team became the first to win five Super Bowls.

Hall of Fame officials said DeBartolo was known as a “players” owner and was well respected in NFL circles.

49ers CEO Jed York said in a statement:

“On behalf of my family, the San Francisco 49ers organization and our faithful fans around the world, I would like to congratulate my uncle Eddie DeBartolo Jr. on his selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”

In a statement, Hall of Famer and 49ers quarterback Joe Montana remembered:

“One game, our DC-8 airplane broke down and they gave us a DC-10. Everyone loved the space — especially the big guys. Eddie knew the comfort was a big deal, so he made us a bet: ‘If you win, I’ll keep you flying the DC-10. We never lost on the road that year, and he was true to his word.”

One of football’s key adversaries to the 49ers’ dynasties of the ’80s and early ’90s, Hall of Famer Bill Parcells agreed in a statement that DeBartolo belonged enshrined in Canton:

“All of the patriarch owners are in. [DeBartolo] is just the best of the new generation of owners. Some people resent that. The message he sent other owners was you want to compete? Hike up your big boy pants. Tell me who did more? Nobody won more that’s for sure.”

DeBartolo hired head coach Bill Walsh in 1979 and drafted quarterback Montana.

Under DeBartolo 49er teams averaged 13 wins each season from 1981 to 1998, not including 1982 when a strike shortened the season.

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