Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice praised President Donald Trump for pardoning former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. on Tuesday.
During DeBartolo’s tenure as owner of the 49ers from 1977 to 2000, the team won five Super Bowls.
He pleaded guilty in 1998 to failure to report a felony after former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards allegedly extorted $400,000 from him to win a casino license in the Bayou State, The Hill reported.
DeBartolo was suspended as owner following the ’98 season and was subsequently forced to relinquish ownership of the team.
He agreed to pay $1 million in fines but did not serve jail time.
Rice played for the 49ers during three of the team’s NFL championship wins: 1988, ’89 and ’94.
He was named the Most Valuable Player in Super Bowl XXIII in 1989.
“Thirty years ago, I got the opportunity to play the greatest game ever, NFL football,” Rice said at the White House.
“It was because of Eddie DeBartolo and also Bill Walsh and that organization. It was all about family. That’s really what they stood for, and that’s the reason why, I think, we won so many championships and so many ball games,” he said.
“So Eddie was like that 12th man that was on that football field, and you know that this guy, he wanted us to win. And I think he’s the main reason why we won so many Super Bowls,” the former NFL star added.
“So today’s a great day for him. I’m glad to be here and be a part of that, and it’s just something I’ll never forget. This man, he has done so much in the community, has done so much in NFL football, and today is a great day for him.”
Rice added, “I take my hat off to Donald Trump for what he did.”
— KRON4 News (@kron4news) February 18, 2020
Other former NFL players on hand who spoke to Trump in support of DeBartolo included 49ers greats Charles Haley and Ronnie Lott and Cleveland Browns legend Jim Brown.
Former football star Jim Brown was at the WH with others to offer support for the presidential pardon for DeBartolo. Called him “a great man” and was “100% behind his humanity.” pic.twitter.com/XcpXdD6IEZ
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) February 18, 2020
The president has granted 18 pardons, in addition to DeBartolo, since taking office, according to the Justice Department.
Some of the more high-profile individuals granted clemency were former Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, former George W. Bush administration official I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, U.S. Navy sailor Kristian Saucier and conservative commentator and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza.
During the Super Bowl, the Trump campaign ran an ad featuring the story of Alice Marie Johnson, whose drug conviction sentence the president commuted in 2018 after reality television star Kim Kardashian West advocated at the White House on her behalf.
I promised to restore hope in America. That includes the least among us. Together, let’s KEEP AMERICA GREAT!
Text TRUMP to 88022 if you liked our Super Bowl ad! pic.twitter.com/Lgjt53B7QX
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2020
“I’m free to hug my family. I’m free to start over,” Johnson says in the ad. “This is the greatest day of my life. My heart is just bursting with gratitude. I want to thank President Donald John Trump.”
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