If at first you don't succeed, try, try again to get Eddie DeBartolo voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That will be the challenge for some voters again this year after meeting resistance last year on the famed 49ers owner who won five Super Bowls and who set a standard for operating a professional sports franchise.
DeBartolo on Friday became one of 15 modern-era finalists for the Hall. Three others, defensive end Charles Haley, linebacker Kevin Greene and guard Larry Allen also played for the 49ers. Semifinalist Roger Craig did not make the cut.
Haley was a fourth-round pick by the 49ers in 1986, and he is the only player in NFL history to have played on five winning Super Bowl teams. Haley twice was named NFC Defensive Player of the Year (1990, 1994) and was voted to five Pro Bowls over his career.
DeBartolo, meanwhile, did not make the cut from 15 to six finalists last year. With so few inductees each year, it has been difficult to vote in non-players. One of the arguments made against DeBartolo in recent years is that, unlike other owners already in the hall of fame, such as late Raiders owner Al Davis, DeBartolo did not have an impact on the formation of the league and merely wrote checks for talented lieutenants like John McVay, Bill Walsh and George Seifert.
Others cite the Louisiana gambling scandal of 1997 that eventually caused DeBartolo to relinquish control of the team to his sister, Denise, and her husband, John York. Supporters note that DeBartolo was the victim in that case - former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards extorted $400,000 from him to win a casino license - and that DeBartolo has since been exonerated by the NFL.
The third knock involves salary-cap violations in the late 1990s that resulted in nearly $1 million in fines and the loss of two 49ers draft picks. Supporters argue that if that type of mischief prevents an owner from reaching the hall of fame, it will make it difficult for future candidates, such as the Patriots' Robert Kraft, whose team was embroiled in the spygate scandal, to be inducted in coming years.
Another owner, former Browns and Ravens owner Art Modell, also is a finalist this year.
· Larry Allen - Guard/Tackle - 1994-2005 Dallas Cowboys; 2006-07 San Francisco 49ers
· Jerome Bettis - Running Back - 1993-95 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams; 1996-2005 Pittsburgh Steelers
· Tim Brown - Wide Receiver/Kick Returner/Punt Returner - 1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders; 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
· Cris Carter - Wide Receiver - 1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles; 1990-2001 Minnesota Vikings; 2002 Miami Dolphins
· Curley Culp* - 1968-1974 Kansas City Chiefs; 1974-1980 Houston Oilers; 1980-81 Detroit Lions
· Edward DeBartolo, Jr. - Owner - 1977-2000 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
· Art Modell - Owner - 1961-1995 Cleveland Browns; 1996-2011 Baltimore Ravens
· Jonathan Ogden - Tackle - 1996-2007 Baltimore Ravens
· 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
· Dave Robinson* - 1963-1972 Green Bay Packers; 1973-74 Washington Redskins
· Warren Sapp - Defensive Tackle - 1995-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers; 2004-07 Oakland Raiders
· Will Shields - Guard - 1993-2006 Kansas City Chiefs
· Michael Strahan - Defensive End - 1993-2007 New York Giants
· Aeneas Williams - Cornerback/Safety - 1991-2000 Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals; 2001-04 St. Louis Rams
I'll be hosting a 49ers chat today at noon. All questions -- except: Do you think the 49ers can trade Alex Smith for X -- are welcome. In addition to the 49ers, I'm also knowledgeable about ornithology, land mammals and the Civil War. Www.sacbee.com/live.
-- Matt Barrows