President Trump is in the business of pardons and commutations these days. Tuesday he pardoned former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. and commuted the sentence of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.
Back in the late 1990s, San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. wanted a piece of a riverboat gambling operation. He knew just who to talk to: Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards.
In the trial, DeBartolo testified that he paid the Democratic governor $400,000 to help him get the business. Edwards was convicted of racketeering and extortion and DeBartolo pleaded guilty to failing to report a felony.
But Tuesday the White House announced that DeBartolo’s legal slate is clean.
The announcement came as a surprise to White House reporters:
The White House suddenly calls reporters to the stakeout to announce President Trump has signed an executive order granting clemency for Eddie DeBartolo Jr., the former owners of 49ers.
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) February 18, 2020
Former NFL great Jerry Rice and other former NFL players were at the White House to hear the news.
Trump has pardoned Eddie DeBartolo Jr., the Former Owner of the 49ers
— Christina Aguayo America's🇺🇲 Daily Report (@TinaAguayotv) February 18, 2020
Rice says he was there for DeBartolo but gave the president credit for taking care of his friend: “I take my hat off for Donald Trump for what he did. Like I said, it’s all about just being here for Eddie today. ”
USA Today reports that in addition to Rice, other former NFL greats were there:
“Jerry Rice, a legendary wide receiver who played under DeBartolo, credited him with his success and described him as the “12th man that was on that football field.”
“It was all about family. That’s really what they stood for. And that’s the reason why I think we won so many championships,” Rice said. “I take my hat off to Donald Trump for what he did.”
Among those who appeared at the announcement Tuesday were former NFL players Jim Brown, Ronnie Lott and Charles Haley.”
Trump is commuting the sentence of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich as well.
Blago was given a room in the governor’s wing of the Illinois state prison for trying to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat when he won the presidency.
Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison for his pay-to-play scheme. He was sentenced in 2011.
The former governor was a contestant on Trump’s TV show “Celebrity Apprentice.”
You can read the official White House statement on today’s pardons here.