Former 49er greats rally for DeBartolo

Published: Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 5C
Last Modified: Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 - 7:19 am

NEW ORLEANS – Before the 46-member selection committee meets today to choose the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class for 2013, there's something a collection of ex-49ers would like to say on behalf of their former owner.

"This is a no-brainer. I'm actually embarrassed that Eddie DeBartolo is not already in," said Brent Jones, a 49ers tight end from 1987 to 1997. "He's as good an owner as there's ever been in professional sports. There will never be another Eddie. There may be people who try to be like him, but there will never be another Eddie."

DeBartolo is one of the 15 modern-era Hall of Fame finalists this year, a group that also includes a pair of first-time nominees with Bay Area ties – offensive lineman Larry Allen (49ers, 2006-07) and defensive tackle Warren Sapp (Raiders, 2004-07).

DeBartolo owned the team from 1977-2000, a span during which the 49ers became the first franchise to win five Super Bowls.

"Five Super Bowls, man, that's a body of work," said Jerry Rice. "What he was able to do to the game of football, the coaches that he brought in – Bill Walsh and his legacy – and the tree of coaches that have gone on to become head coaches. Eddie was one of the best owners."

Debartolo's Hall of Fame hopes have been thwarted largely because of his connection to the corruption case of former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards in the 1990s.

His former players, however, still support him.

"He's one of those owners that went beyond the call of duty for people that played for him," said Joe Montana. "The greatest thing I got from my experience was that relationship. Everybody was family to him."

Texans – Houston running back Arian Foster says he has not spoken to his doctors about "any surgery" after a report that he was likely to undergo a heart procedure in about a month.

The NFL Network reported Thursday that Foster was considering an ablation procedure to address a heart issue he's had since he was 12.

According to the Mayo Clinic's official website, such a procedure involves the use of a catheter to correct structural problems that can lead to an abnormal heartbeat.

Foster said in a statement released Friday he has "no complications with my blood pumper."

Cowboys – Owner Jerry Jones apparently hears the criticism that he's calling all the shots for the team again and undermining coach Jason Garrett as a result.

In an interview for the team's website, Jones said Garrett has a strong voice in an overhaul of the coaching staff and that his third-year coach is "the right man putting this together."

Rams – A panel of arbitrators ruled in favor of a $700 million plan by the Rams to renovate the Edward Jones Dome. The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission proposed $124 million in renovations.

The commission has 30 days to accept or reject, or the sides will go to a year-to-year agreement, and the Rams could leave St. Louis after the 2014-15 season.

Jurisprudence – The daughter of a former Chicago Bear pleaded guilty to fraud in Detroit after collecting money from an NFL pension plan years after her father's death.

Constance Helwig-Langlois is the daughter of John Helwig, who played defense for the Bears in the 1950s. He died in 1994, but pension checks kept coming until fall of 2011.

The government says his widow told the NFL retirement plan that he was still alive, and when she died in 2007, their daughter kept the scheme going. The payments added up to more than $200,000 over 17 years.

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