Edward DeBartolo, Jr. visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame today. It certainly wasn’t his first trip to Canton. He has presented four of his former players and one coach for induction into the Hall of fame during the annual Enshrinement ceremony. However, today’s visit was different. This time he came to Canton not as a presenter, but as a Hall of Famer.
The first thing he saw as he drove down 2121 George Halas Drive was his "Hall of Famer" image with his hall classmates on the giant Class of 2016 mural hanging on the front of the Pro Football Hall of Fame for millions of visitors to see.
“When I drove up here I had goose bumps and I was very emotional,” said DeBartolo.
The former owner was surprised to be greeted with applause when he walked through the entrance doors by the Hall of Fame’s entire staff. He was honored by the welcome and proceeded to take time to shake hands and talk to the Hall’s staff individually. He did the same with fans who were visiting the museum as well.
“It was unbelievable…That’s why this is such a success starting with Mr. Baker and all the way through with everybody [from] the staff. That’s why it’s almost unbelievable and unexplainable…the feeling you have just being a part of this,” DeBartolo shared.
He then received a guided tour of the Hall of Fame, including a behind-the-scenes look at the Hall's extensive archives. He was able to see artifacts from the Hall of Fame’s collection, the busts of his former 49ers players and a few of the rarest documents from pro football’s history. His tour also included an inside look at the construction of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s newest exhibit Game for Life – a holographic theatre that is set to open this summer.
“I’m just awe inspired,” explained DeBartolo. “Just to be in this magnificent facility to see these icons – I got goose bumps.”
During his tour, he stopped to speak with and thank U.S. Army soldiers who were planning a retirement ceremony for another soldier at the Hall.
The rest of his afternoon was spent planning his Enshrinement with some of the Hall of Fame staff.
He will be officially Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 6, 2016.
DeBartolo purchased the in 1977 with a vision to create a top-notch organization, on and off the field. He succeeded in his goal as he led the franchise to unprecedented winning during the time of his tenure. The 49ers during his reign claimed 13 division titles, made 16 playoff appearances, advanced to the NFC championship game 10 times, and became the first franchise ever to win five Super Bowls.
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