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    Larry Allen, right, a former Cowboys and 49ers offensive lineman, hugs former Buccaneers and Raiders defensive tackle Warren Sapp after their election to the Hall of Fame.

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  • HALL OF FAME CLASS

    • Larry Allen, offensive lineman

    • Cris Carter, wide receiver

    • Curley Culp, defensive lineman

    • Jonathan Ogden, offensive lineman

    • Bill Parcells, coach

    • Dave Robinson, linebacker

    • Warren Sapp, defensive lineman

Ex-49er Allen elected to Hall; DeBartolo, Haley fall short

Published: Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013 - 9:54 am

NEW ORLEANS – Saturday was a good day for an ex-Raven, less so for former 49ers.

Neither longtime owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. nor defensive end Charles Haley was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In fact, the only ex-49er to make the 2013 class was guard Larry Allen, who was on two terrible San Francisco squads at the end of his career in 2006 and 2007.

Allen, a huge man who played at tiny Sonoma State, spent his first 12 NFL seasons with the Dallas Cowboys.

Recalling his introduction to the league, Allen said, "I just didn't want to mess up. When I got drafted, (the Cowboys had) just won the Super Bowl. We had the best players at every position. Erik Williams got hurt, they threw me in, and I just didn't want to be the one to mess up."

Defensive tackle Warren Sapp, who played his final four seasons with the Raiders, also was voted in.

"My feet haven't touched the ground in about 30 minutes, man," Sapp said. "This is unbelievable."

The other members of the class are wide receiver Cris Carter, offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, former New York Giants coach Bill Parcells and senior members Dave Robinson, a linebacker, and Curley Culp, a defensive tackle.

Ogden, the first-ever draft pick by the Baltimore Ravens, also is the first Raven to make the Hall of Fame.

He admitted stressing out while waiting for the vote.

"It's like going to the hospital with your wife when she's having a baby," he said.

The writers who voted on this year's class spent a record eight hours deliberating. One hour was spent debating Parcells, whose Giants squads had a long rivalry with DeBartolo's 49ers. The voting for those men is believed to have taken on an East Coast vs. West Coast aspect.

Sports Illustrated's Jim Trotter, who is based in California, said he voted for both DeBartolo and former Kansas City Chiefs guard Will Shields, neither of whom made the first round of cuts from 15 to 10 nominees.

Said another voter, the Dallas Morning News' Rick Gosselin: "To see a Charles Haley and a (former Giants defensive end) Michael Strahan not make it shows the strength of this class."

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 Super Bowl champions.

Haley twice was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Year (1990, 1994) and was voted to five Pro Bowls. He has been on the ballot nine times.

DeBartolo, meanwhile, owned the 49ers from 1977 to 2000, and his teams won 13 division titles, played in 10 championship games and became the first to win five Super Bowls.

During that time, DeBartolo set a standard in the modern era, one that his nephew, Jed York, said he aspires to reach.

"Have you ever seen a player love their owner as much as all of our players love Eddie?" York said. "And it's not just because he gave them money. It's because he opened up the 49ers and made it a family."

DeBartolo did not make the cut from 15 to 10 finalists last year, either.

One of the arguments against him 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 such as John McVay, Bill Walsh and George Seifert.

Others cite the 1997 Louisiana gambling scandal 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 since has been exonerated by the NFL.

The third critique 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 such mischief prevents an owner from reaching the Hall of Fame, it will be difficult for future candidates, such as the New England Patriots' Robert Kraft, whose team was embroiled in the Spygate scandal, to be inducted in coming years.

Another owner, the late Art Modell, did not make the initial cut from 15 to 10 finalists, either.

Said Gosselin: "When you're putting an owner with a player … the player's generally going to get the nod."

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Matthew Barrows



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