President Donald Trump on Tuesday granted Eddie DeBartolo Jr., the long-time owner of the San Francisco 49ers, a presidential pardon for his admitted involvement in a bribery scandal in the late 1990s.
The White House made the announcement to reporters Tuesday morning with football great Jerry Rice in attendance.
In a video of the announcement posted online by media organizations, Rice said:
“I think he’s the main reason why we won so many Super Bowls, so today is a great day for him. I’m glad to be here, be a part of that.”
“This man, he has done so much in the community, so much for NFL football, and today is a great day for him.”
The White House didn’t give an explanation for the pardon nor did it post announcements on its website or via social media.
White House spokespeople didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did a spokesman for 49ers or the spokeswoman for the DeBartolo family business, DeBartolo Holdings.
DeBartolo, an Ohio native, gave up team ownership to his sister, Denise DeBartolo-York, after he pleaded guilty in 1998 to failing to report a bribery scheme involving a payment to then Gov. Edwin Edwards of Louisiana in exchange for a riverboat gambling license.
He was suspended by the league for one year but didn’t do any prison time.
He was admitted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016 for his role in bringing the 49ers five championships between 1981 and 1994.
Fellow Hall of Famer Rice, largely considered the best receiver in NFL history, played for the 49ers from 1985 to 2000.