Former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo was eliminated Wednesday from consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2015.
DeBartolo, a three-time Hall of Fame finalist, was not included as one of two individuals selected as part of the new “contributors” classification for enshrinement. Longtime NFL general managers, Bill Polian and Ron Wolf, were selected as contributor finalists by the Hall of Fame’s contributor committee that met in Washington, D.C.
The 49ers won five Super Bowls under DeBartolo's ownership, but his reign ended in controversy. After DeBartolo pleaded guilty to a felony, failure to report a 1997 extortion attempt stemming from his attempt to acquire a riverboat gambling license in Louisiana, then-NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue suspended him for a year. DeBartolo never regained control of the 49ers.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s selection meeting will be held on Jan. 31, 2015, in Phoenix, Arizona, one day before Super Bowl XLIX.
Longtime Minnesota Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff, the senior nominee, the two contributor nominees and 15 modern era candidates will be considered for selection into the Hall of Fame. The 2015 class will be comprised of no less than four enshrinees and no more than eight.
A contributor nominee is defined as an individual who made outstanding contributions to professional football in capacities other than playing or coaching, according to the Hall of Fame. The two contributor finalists must receive the same 80 percent voting support that is required of all finalists.
The change was precipitated by the fact that since 1963, when the Hall of Fame first opened, only 19 contributors have been elected and 10 of those were elected in the first five Hall of Fame classes, including six as charter members.
There are 113 modern-era nominees. That list will be trimmed to 25 in late-November, and further reduced to 15 finalists in January before the final selection meeting on the eve of the Super Bowl.