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CloseUp: Behind the Scenes with Eddie DeBartolo

Luxury Living Tampa Bay

Eddie DeBartolo has been asked to present 5 Pro Football Hall of Famers, including wide receiver Jerry Rice in 2010. Photo courtesy of DeBartolo Family Foundation

Eddie DeBartolo and his wife Candy were in their room at the Stanford Park Hotel in San Francisco waiting anxiously for news about one of pro-football’s biggest events of the year – the inductees to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2016.

“It felt like we were on a TV show,” recalls DeBartolo. “We heard a knock on the door. I knew that if it wasn’t David Baker, president of the Hall of Fame, that meant I didn’t make it.

“I looked through the peephole and it was Baker. I opened the door and he grabbed me and hugged me. I broke down and Candy broke down. I was honored and humbled beyond words. But, I also felt terrible for all of the finalists who didn’t make it.”

Photo courtesy of DeBartolo Family Foundation. DeBartolo was the first owner to win 5 Super Bowl championships, and the only individual owner to ever do so.

It’s that streak of humility and compassion mixed with unerring business acumen that has made DeBartolo the man he is today. Former NFL running back and Hall of Fame recipient Eric Dickerson sums it up best: “Eddie D was one of the best owners that I wish I would have had the opportunity to play for.”

In the spring, the DeBartolo’s talked to the duPont REGISTRY™ Luxury Living In Tampa Bay from their home in Avila that they share with Eddie’s beloved dogs a greyhound, an enormous Great Dane-Saint Bernard mix and a schnoodle, a cross between a schnauzer and a poodle. When he’s not immersed in business, Eddie escapes with the dogs to Montana where he has a second home.

Eddie and Candy met in high school and have been married 47 years. They moved to Tampa in 2000, after Eddie retired as the legendary owner of the San Francisco 49ers – the first franchise to win five Super Bowl Championships. In August, he’ll be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

What was the secret to his team’s success? “Back then it was totally about relationships. We were close to all of the players, more like friends than owners. It was always a mutual admiration society,” says DeBartolo. “I’ve stayed in touch over the years and recently met up with eight of my former players in Las Vegas. We had a great time.”

The DeBartolo Family — Nikki, Lisa, Eddie, Tiffanie and Candy — enjoy Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara where Eddie was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Photo courtesy of DeBartolo Family Foundation

Today, DeBartolo is focused on philanthropy. He credits his daughters, Lisa, Tiffanie and Nikki, for the remarkable job they do running the DeBartolo Family Foundation, which over the years has donated $13 million dollars to worthwhile causes. “It comes from the heart. We don’t do this for the publicity,” says DeBartolo. “We can’t help cure all of the world’s ills, but it’s our belief that we have to help people in any way we can.”

What’s next on his agenda? “After all those years of travel with football, it’s nice to just enjoy myself and spend more time with my family, especially my three grandsons, ages 5, 7 and 12,” says DeBartolo.

He’s also continuing the real estate legacy established by his father, Edward DeBartolo, Sr., who built the first enclosed shopping mall in the country back in the 1940s. Recent projects undertaken by DeBartolo Development include Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School in Tampa and a new shopping mall on Oahu in Hawaii – the first new project of its kind on the island in 40 years.

Photo Top: DeBartolo is joined by former 49ers players, including six Hall of Famers, in Santa Clara during Charles Haley’s HOF ring presentation at the 49ers home opener in September 2015. Photo Bottom: DeBartolo enjoys spending time with his three grandsons, including Asher (12), who often accompanies him on the field during celebrations. Hall of Famers Ronnie Lott and Joe Montana join them on stage last September at Haley’s ring presentation. Photo courtesy of DeBartolo Family Foundation

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