NFL Network's 'A Football Life' Explores Life & Legacy of Eddie Debartolo

Categories: Press Releases

Written By

October 22nd, 2012

via press release:




“The greatest owner in professional sports history

is Eddie DeBartolo” - Ronnie Lott


“Owning a football team is the dream of every

red-blooded American”  - Eddie DeBartolo


Emmy-Nominated Series Continues Wednesday, October 24 at 8:00 PM ET


Features Interviews with Family Members & Former Players

of the Five Time Super Bowl Winning Owner


A 30-year-old Youngstown, Ohio native was the least likely individual to turn the San Francisco 49ers into a model franchise of the National Football League. However, that is what Eddie DeBartolo achieved, winning five Super Bowls with two different coaches and two different quarterbacks during his 23 years as owner of the 49ers, a period of success matched by few other professional sport organizations.


Airing Wednesday, October 24 at 8:00 PM ET on NFL Network, Eddie DeBartolo: A Football Life chronicles the career of one of the youngest owners in NFL history beginning in 1977 and through his 2009 induction as the first member of the 49ers Hall of Fame. Eddie DeBartolo: A Football Life showcases the undying loyalty of DeBartolo’s players, which he earned through his dedication to the organization.


After purchasing the 49ers in 1977, Eddie DeBartolo did not see an immediate return on his investment.  In his first two seasons as owner, the 49ers were a combined 7-25 and had three different head coaches. In the 1980 offseason, DeBartolo hired Bill Walsh and the fortunes of the franchise changed forever. Two seasons later, the 49ers won their first Super Bowl, launching a streak of unprecedented NFL dominance with additional Super Bowl victories in the 1984, 1988, 1989, and 1994 seasons.


Eddie DeBartolo inherited his business acumen from his father who founded the DeBartolo Corporation shortly after World War II. Eddie was heavily involved in the family business which has made him one of Forbes Magazine’s 400 Richest Americans. However, it was his private business ventures that led to him being named in a 1997 federal indictment.  As a result, he was suspended by the NFL in 1999 and less than two years later he was no longer the owner of the San Francisco 49ers. He has not been involved with the NFL since.


Eddie DeBartolo: A Football Life includes footage from DeBartolo’s first meeting with the San Francisco media in 1977, his victory speech following the 1981 NFC Championship Game, a Las Vegas reunion in 2006 with all five of DeBartolo’s Super Bowl winning teams, and documents his thirty-year relationship with Bill Walsh.


Eddie DeBartolo: A Football Life includes interviews with the following people:


Randy Cross – 49ers defensive lineman, 1976-1988

Ronnie Lott – 49ers defensive back, 1981-1990

Eric Wright – 49ers defensive back, 1981-1990

Joe Montana – 49ers quarterback, 1979-1992

Jerry Rice – 49ers wide receiver, 1985-2000

Keena Turner – 49ers linebacker, 1980-1990

Carmen Policy – 49ers executive, 1983-1998

Bill Walsh – 49ers head coach, 1979-1988

Dianne Feinstein – San Francisco Mayor, 1978-1988

Dwight Clark - 49ers wide receiver, 1979 -1987

Eric Wright - 49ers defensive back, 1981-1990

Tom Rathman – 49ers fullback, 1986-1993

Charles Haley - 49ers defensive end, 1986-1991

Jeff Fuller – 49ers safety, 1984-1989

Steve Young – 49ers quarterback, 1987-1999

George Seifert – 49ers head coach, 1989-1996

Brent Jones – 49ers tight end, 1987-1997

Lisa DeBartolo – Eddie DeBartolo’s daughter

Jed York – Eddie DeBartolo’s nephew, current CEO of the 49ers

Dee Solomon – Freddie Solomon’s wife


Emmy-nominated actor from CBS’ The Good Wife, Josh Charles, narrates.


For the first look at Eddie DeBartolo: A Football Life, visit:


Following are select quotes from Eddie DeBartolo: A Football Life:


“Owning a football team is the dream of every red blooded American.” – Eddie DeBartolo


“The greatest owner in professional sports history is Eddie DeBartolo.” – Ronnie Lott


“I would walk through fire for Eddie.”Randy Cross


“There isn’t anyone in the NFL that didn’t want to be one of his guys.”Joe Montana


“The 49ers were always first class and it was because of Eddie DeBartolo.”Jerry Rice


“He not only made me a better player, he made me a better man.” Keena Turner


“When I won a Super Bowl, it all comes rushing back how much Eddie DeBartolo did for me.”Steve Young


“He is always welcomed with the 49ers.”Jed York


Below is the remaining broadcast schedule for A Football Life, airing on Wednesday nights at 8:00 PM ET:


  • October 31 – Chris Spielman
  • November 7 – Jimmy Johnson
  • November 21 – John Riggins
  • December 5 – Barry Sanders
  • December 12 – Marcus Allen
  • December 19 – The Immaculate Reception


Airing throughout the NFL season, A Football Life examines the iconic individuals and subjects that have had an undeniable and profound impact on the history of the National Football League, offering an inside look into their untold stories.


Every episode of A Football Life and all NFL Network programming is streamed live on NFL Mobile from Verizon, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


NFL Network airs seven days a week, 24 hours a day on a year-round basis and is the only television network fully dedicated to the NFL and the sport of football.  For more information, log on to is the exclusive internet home of NFL Network.

© 2015 Tribune Digital Ventures