Eddie DeBartolo, Jr., who took over a woebegone 49ers franchise at age 30 in 1977 and then went on to win five Super Bowl titles, was named a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's 2012 class today. Three other former 49ers, defenders Charles Haley, Kevin Greene and Chris Dolemen, also were on the list of 15 modern-era finalists. Running back Roger Craig, who was on the list of semifinalists, did not make the cut.
This is the first time that DeBartolo, who was forced to relinquish control of the team in 2000, has made the list of finalists. When he was owner, the 49ers won 13 division titles, made 16 playoff appearances, advanced to NFC championship game 10 times and became the first team to win five titles. DeBartolo was inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2008. This list of finalists will be further winnowed on Feb. 4 after which the five-man 2012 class will be announced.
2012 Hall-of-Fame Finalists:
• Jerome Bettis - Running Back - 1993-95 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 1996-2005 Pittsburgh Steelers
• Tim Brown - Wide Receiver/Kick Returner - 1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
• Jack Butler* - Cornerback - 1951-59 Pittsburgh Steelers
• Cris Carter - Wide Receiver - 1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles, 1990-2001 Minnesota Vikings, 2002 Miami Dolphins
• Dermontti Dawson - Center - 1988-2000 Pittsburgh Steelers
• Edward DeBartolo, Jr. - Owner - 1977-2000 San Francisco 49ers
• Chris Doleman - Defensive End/Linebacker - 1985-1993, 1999 Minnesota Vikings, 1994-95 Atlanta Falcons, 1996-98 San Francisco 49ers
• Kevin Greene - Linebacker/Defensive End - 1985-1992 Los Angeles Rams, 1993-95 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1996, 1998-99 Carolina Panthers, 1997 San Francisco 49ers
• Charles Haley - Defensive End/Linebacker - 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys
• Cortez Kennedy - Defensive Tackle - 1990-2000 Seattle Seahawks
• Curtis Martin - Running Back - 1995-97 New England Patriots, 1998-2005 New York Jets
• Bill Parcells - Coach - 1983-1990 New York Giants, 1993-96 New England Patriots, 1997-99 New York Jets, 2003-06 Dallas Cowboys
• Andre Reed - Wide Receiver - 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins
• Willie Roaf - Tackle - 1993-2001 New Orleans Saints, 2002-05 Kansas City Chiefs
• Will Shields - Guard - 1993-2006 Kansas City Chiefs
• Dick Stanfel* - Guard - 1952-55 Detroit Lions, 1956-58 Washington Redskins
• Aeneas Williams - Cornerback/Safety - 1991-2000 Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals, 2001-04 St. Louis Rams
Edward J. DeBartolo, Jr. Owner ... Notre Dame ... 1977-2000 San Francisco 49ers ... Purchased 49ers in 1977 with vision to create top-notch organization, on and off field ... Known as a "players' owner," led franchise to unprecedented winning during tenure ... In 1979, hired Bill Walsh as team's head coach, drafted quarterback Joe Montana, and created atmosphere conducive to winning ... Fortunes of franchise changed soon thereafter ... In 1981, 49ers finished 13-3 to claim NFC Western Division title and won hard fought playoff battles with New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys and capped the year with a thrilling 26-21 victory over Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XVI ... DeBartolo infused team roster with talent that resulted in San Francisco enjoying amazing string of winning seasons ... Team averaged 13 wins per season, including playoffs, during a span from 1981 to 1998 (not including strike-shortened 1982 season). During DeBartolo's ownership team claimed 13 division titles, made 16 playoff appearances, advanced to NFC championship game 10 times, and was first franchise ever to win five Super Bowls (XVI, XIX, XXIII, XXIV, XXIX) ... Franchise posted the best winning percentage in NFL in both the decades of the 1980s and 1990s ... Was named NFL Man of the Year by Football News, 1989 as the nation's top sports executive ... DeBartolo was also highly respected inside NFL circles and served on league's realignment and expansion committees ... Born November 6, 1946 in Youngstown, Ohio.
Charles Haley: Defensive End/Linebacker ... 6-5, 242 ... James Madison ... 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys ... 12 playing season, 169 games ... Selected by 49ers in 4th round (96th player overall) in 1986 draft ... Only player in NFL history to play on five winning Super Bowl teams (SBs XXIII, XXIV, XXVII, XXVIII, XXX) ... Began career at linebacker and led 49ers in sacks in each of first six seasons ... Recorded four double-digit sack totals with 49ers including 12 as rookie and career-high 16 in 1990 ... Moved to defensive end after trade to Dallas ... Added two more double-digit sack seasons, 1994, 1995 ... Suffered serious back injury, limited to just five games, 1996 ... Retired after undergoing surgery ... After a two-year hiatus, signed with 49ers as backup defensive end for two playoff games in 1998 ... In 1999 came back for final season, added three sacks to finish career with 100.5 ... Twice named NFC Defensive Player of the Year (1990, 1994), voted to five Pro Bowls, named All-Pro twice, once as linebacker, once as defensive end ... Played in six NFC championship games over seven seasons ... Starting at left outside linebacker in 49ers 1988, 1989, 1990 championship games; at right defensive end in Cowboys' 1992, 1993, 1994 conference championships ... Member of 10 division championship teams during his 12 seasons ... Born January 6, 1964 in Gladys, Virginia.
Kevin Greene: Linebacker/Defensive End ... 6-3, 247 ... Auburn... 1985-1992 Los Angeles Rams, 1993-95 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1996, 1998-99 Carolina Panthers, 1997 San Francisco 49ers ... 15 seasons, 228 games ... Selected by Rams in 5th round (113th player overall) in 1985 draft ... Played primarily on special teams as rookie, only season he didn't register a sack ... Did not have any starts in second season, but played in all 16 games and managed seven sacks ... Added 6.5 sacks in 1987 and by fourth season was bona fide pass rusher for Rams, registering career-high 16.5 sacks, including career-best 4.5 sacks in win over 49ers in season finale that clinched playoff spot for Rams ... Following year matched his 16.5 sacks total ... Had double-digit sack totals ten times, second in record book at the time ... Only time missed recording 10 sacks in any of last eight seasons was 1995 when he had team-leading nine sacks for Steelers ... Named to Pro Bowl five times (once with the Rams, twice with Steelers and Panthers) ... Selected first-team All-Pro, 1989 with Rams, 1994 with Pittsburgh and 1996 with Carolina ... Captured league sack title twice, 1994 and 1996 ... A member of NFL's All-Decade Team of 1990s ... Played in six conference championship games and one Super Bowl ... Led team in sacks 11 times and amassed 160 total sacks, third all-time at time of retirement ... Also had three safeties, 26 opponent fumble recoveries, and five interceptions ... Born July 31, 1962 in New York, New York.
Chris Doleman: Defensive End/Linebacker ... 6-5, 270 ... Pittsburgh ... 1985-1993, 1999 Minnesota Vikings, 1994-95 Atlanta Falcons, 1996-98 San Francisco 49ers ... 15 playing seasons ... 232 games ... Selected by Vikings in 1st round (4th player overall) in 1985 draft ... Drafted as linebacker, moved to starting defensive end position final three games of second season ... Tallied team-high 11 sacks in 1987... First of six sack titles with Vikings ... Named All-NFL, All-NFC and voted to first Pro Bowl in 1987 ... Finest season came in 1989, led NFL with 21 sacks, one shy of single-season record at time ... In 1992, named NFC's Defensive Player of the Year when he recorded 14.5 sacks and 64 tackles, returned interception for touchdown, forced six fumbles, recovered three fumbles, and had safety ... Spent two seasons with Atlanta (1994-95) three with the San Francisco (1996-98) ... Returned to Vikings for final season, 1999 ... His 150.5 sacks was NFL's fourth best at time of retirement ... Tied for third in the NFL Record Book with eight seasons 10 or more sacks ... Also intercepted eight passes returning two for touchdowns; recorded two safeties; and scored touchdown on a fumble recovery during career ... Named to eight Pro Bowls; first-team All-Pro in 1987, 1989, 1992 and first-team All-NFC four times ... A member of the NFL's All-Decade Team of 1990s ... Born October 16, 1961 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
-- Matt Barrows