Catching up with the legend that is Eddie DeBartolo: An exclusive 1 on 1



I waited in my car for Eddie DeBartolo to call.

His assistant, Valerie, told me he would call sometime after noon Mountain Time. So at 10:30 my time, I left the 49ers’ media room inside Levi’s Stadium, crossed Tasman Drive, walked to Yellow Parking Lot 2, sat in the driver’s seat of my car and talked to myself for an hour and fifteen minutes, practicing my questions.

At one point, I heard tires grind against the gravel next to me. I woman parked her SUV, and we made eye contact as my lips were moving. I nodded to her. She didn’t nod back. She looked away in horror. Probably thought I was a nut.

At 11:43, my phone buzzed.

“No Caller ID,” flashed on the screen.

“Eddie?” I said as I answered the call.

“Is this Grant?” he asked.

“It is,” I said. “Thank you so much for calling me. And congratulations on being inducted into the Hall of Fame and being honored this Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.”

“Thank you very much,” he said. “But I have to ask. How old are you? You look fresh out of college in your picture.”

“I’m 28. I was born in 1988.”

“So you weren’t even born yet when your dad was raking me over the coals.” He laughed.

“Yeah, I hear he was slightly berserk before he had me.”

“Oh, no, no,” DeBartolo reassured me. “He’s a good man and a great writer.”

“Thank you for saying that.” I said. And then I began the interview. Take the stage, Eddie.

Click here to mead my exclusive interview with the great Eddie DeBartolo.

This article has 113 Comments

  1. Nice job Grant. I really wish he was more forthcoming on exactly how he feels about Jed’s performance, but you asked him and he kind of skirted around it a bit. Sounds like he’s at peace with life in general and that’s great to hear. Say what you will about Eddie, but he was a hell of an owner and truly cared about his players and staff. Glad to see him doing well.

    1. “…he was a hell of an owner and truly cared about his players and staff”. Couldn’t agree more, Rocket. In fact, Eddie, and his groundbreaking management style, was the reason I first became a Niners fan. Of course, having Bill Walsh, Joe, Roger, Jerry, et. al. didn’t hurt…

  2. Wow, nice to see that Eddie is doing well, and great to see another side of him. To have a former owner that still cares about the players both past and present is truly heartwarming. Thank you Grant, that was a great read.

    1. Seems to me that after the way he talked about his family and Jed, you could already predict how he would answer that one.

  3. Hey Grant you should of asked the great Eddie D what’s going on between his daughter Lisa and Jed and why there’s a little animosity or maybe that would’ve been too much?

  4. Eddie wrote the software and Jerry Jones downloaded it. Great that he took the time to give you that interview, Grant. I enjoyed it and thought you were respectful, yet probing. I’d be happy talking to Joe Montana once, let alone multiple times a day. It’s too bad they couldn’t take over operations….

  5. Hey guys. I’ve been advised to cut back on my screen time due to more frequent migraines. I’m trying many things such as proper rest, diet, etc. I’m hoping to find a balance that will allow me to be a somewhat regular poster.


    Good job and congratulations on the Eddie D interview. I always enjoy hearing from the living legend. I wish Jed would take his advice. “Surround yourself with good people, give them the autonomy to do their job, and step back and let them do it.”

  6. Grant, just read a transcript of Towny&Zakaria show 95.7.

    Yes, Kelly most go and the sooner the organization makes that move the better.

    1. Yeah keep thinking that it’s the easiest excuse for this horrible roster so let’s hire another coach and when they keep losing you’ll be saying the same thing about him until this roster gets upgraded it’ll be the same results year in and year out and that’s the cold hard truth.

  7. Grant,

    Thanks for asking Eddie about the current state of the NFL and 49ers. After Eddie mentioned so much money is involved in the NFL I’m surprised Jed didn’t try to sue you like he did Kawakami for revealing annual 49er profits.

    Also, asking Eddie how he spends his life after football was revealing in contrast to York 49er ownership. Eddie takes care of former players and co-workers. In mentioned this also in his Hall of Fame Speech, also telling the story of riding the ambulance with a paralyzed, Jeff Fuller, and taking care of him for life.

    The current York’s would have cut Jeff off years ago and give no solicitor’s warnings to any ex-employees, players, or columnists…Remember, Grant, the York’s actually sent the police after Kawakami, via, cell phone, ripped off the Girl Scouts of America, stiffed kawakami on a dinner bill and recently, at Santal Clara’s City Council Meeting, were rebuffed in their efforts to pave over the soccer mom’s kids soccer field in search of parking profits:

    “These kids have grown up with social media, and they are really, really smart,” said Councilwoman Lisa Gillmor.

    The first attack was an online video parody aimed at team owner Jed York, called “Jed the Millionaire,” which four young soccer players sang to the tune of the old “Beverly Hillbillies” theme song (

  8. thank you Grant for this interview that was awesome to hear from Mr DeBartolo ……
    just want to say thanks for the hard work you do for all of us niners fans… and others keep it up :)

  9. Grant, congrats, an honor well deserved. Chip and the FO wont give you the time of day, but you scooped them. Now they will have to take you seriously. Keep up the good work.

    I bet you father is proud of you.

    1. Why through in the jabs about time of day, and taking him seriously?
      Is it me who only sees that Seb is a phony piece of crap?

      1. Prime, I have been advocating that the Niners allow a one on one interview with Chip many times. I thought Grant would elicit thoughtful insightful answers.

        So far, they have not allowed anything, and Chip even refused to answer Grant’s questions, feigning ignorance over gap integrity, and parsing the difference between Zone read and Read option.

        Now Grant was bestowed a high honor to interview Eddie, the best owner the Niners ever had, who is a bona fide Hall of Famer.

        Eddie could have let one of the FO favorites like Maiocco or Barrows, do the honor, but chose Grant, even over his father.

        Maybe now, they will treat Grant with more respect, because if Edward Debartolo thinks Grant is good enough to conduct an interview with him, they will realize that the guy who won 5 rings may have enough football acumen to recognize Grant’s talents.

  10. Very good interview, Grant. Solid questions, and some of the answers by Eddie are quite interesting, especially those about Jed and the current Niners. Good work! Is this your biggest one-on-one interview so far in your career?

  11. Eddie likes Carmen Policy. “He helped me a great deal. He is very, very, very smart. Very, very intelligent.”

    Sounds like the type of person Jed should surround himself with.

  12. Awesome interview Grant.
    Nice touch with the little ice breaker when Eddie D brought up your dad. Eddie always comes over as a man of class and one who never fails to appreciate those that made contributions in lifting him to success.
    Having the Superbowl at the new stadium was a great event for football fans and Jed York. Honoring Eddie D this Sunday will be he greatest event for the Faithful at the new stadium, bar none.

  13. Nice to look back, but moving forward we need what the Warriors have. Jed & the Yorks need to go. They will never be successful as Lou Wolf would not be with the A’s.

    This group likes to win if they stumble into it, but they only care about $$$$ otherwise. They might start to pretend they care if they get to the end of their current PSL agreement.
    Otherwise this is the worst franchise in the Bay and one of the worst in all of sports. Eddie is 20 years ago now & it’s time to move on!

  14. Great interview and another reminder of how far this once glorious franchise has fallen under the Yorks. What I would give to have Mr. D run this organization again…

      1. Thanks seb. I’ve been fine since late Thursday early Friday, knock on wood. We’ll see how it goes in the coming weeks.

        Just to make sure I get in my prediction for tomorrow.
        NE 27
        SF 24

  15. Wake up 49er Fans, because Jed know this

    Although people might disagree about the merits of each transaction, there is a general sense that each team is trying to win. After all, don’t teams have a clear financial incentive to win more games? Don’t more wins lead to more fans in the stands and more viewers on television? And doesn’t all that make the team owners more money?

    As it turns out, the economics of the NFL don’t quite work this way. The NFL equally shares its nearly $5 billion of national television revenue among all its teams. It also shares a substantial portion of its ticket and merchandise revenue, but not revenue from suites, sponsorships, or naming rights.

    All of this means that the link between a team’s record and the revenue it brings in is quite weak.

  16. Part 2: Modern NFL Econcomics and why Eddie Paused at Grant’s Jed question, citing modern NFL finances instead

    With respect to baseball we found that a 10 percent increase in regular season wins for an average team would lead to a 2.7 percent increase in revenue. The same result was uncovered for the NBA. In both of these leagues the national television revenue is shared, but other revenue streams, such as local media, gate revenue, and sponsorship revenue are—relative to what we see in the NFL—not shared as much.

    In the NFL, by contrast, a 10 percent increase in regular season wins for an average team only leads to a 0.14 percent increase in revenue. Because the NFL has embraced much more sharing, the financial incentive to win is muted.

  17. Part 3. Jed’s Motivation to Win:

    So why don’t all teams simply spend as little as the league allows? One suspects that teams are not strictly motivated by financial incentives. People in the NFL don’t try to win just to make money. They also are motivated to win games because they like winning.

    Are they motivated Jed? I see Tampa Bay’s Owner got a 4,000 yd/ Yr. passer and decent receivers…For some reason, Cody Pickett, Blaine Gabbert and AJ Jenkins are what you expect to shove down our throats and like it for 16 years….Nothing changes, Jed, you like to lose while making money, the other owners have other businesses so their teams are a tax write off, not impactful on their pocket books. You, Jed, have no other business so from the over priced Vegan Dogs to the paved over parking lots, you treat the Niners as a business only, wins are a by product of your cheapness—if they happen while your cheap, great, if not, who cares, you still rake in 425 million annually.

    1. We really are all fools and addicts for following this product……………You can not convince me that this ownership cares about winning, about the 9ers history, as much as we the fans do. They run it like a buyer at Walmart.

  18. Cam Inman Verified account 
    #49ers players must pay season-high $227 per ticket this week. “Especially with New England, they want to jack it up.” – anonymous player

    Joe ‏@11012010Finally · Nov 16

    @CamInman Jed is a real a-shole.

    Del Gue ‏@Great_AZCatsby · Nov 16

    @CamInman Can this organization do anything with class and grace ? They are so scummy

    Jb ‏@royalJb5 · Nov 17

    @CamInman If anyone needs anymore proof that these owners don’t care about the fans or this team. It’s all dollar signs.

     Manhattan, NY

    @CamInman Too bad ticket prices don’t commensurate with quality of on field play. It they did tickets would go for 3 cents each.

    Rohan Venkatesh ‏@RohanV11 · Nov 16

    @CamInman @JedYork yet again Jed proves there is no bounds to his money grabbing. What a joke

    Kyle Cook ‏@cook49er · Nov 16

    @CamInman @timkawakami stadium will be empty as usual

    Jeff Cohen ‏@jeff_cohen_ · Nov 16  Coeur d’Alene, ID

    @CamInman people are still watching this train wreck of a team?

  19. Deejay Rid ‏@DeejayRid · Nov 16

    @CamInman @MaioccoCSN That is sky high. No wonder our stadium is always empty. People cant afford the games.

    John Utah ‏@GoldenStateShow · Nov 16

    @CamInman team needs to think this through,should give players free tickets to put as many butts in the seats in possible to root for Niners

    Michael Murphy ‏@murphysolve · Nov 16

    @CamInman @timkawakami Dynamic pricing ‘

    Steven S ‏@rocketknight73 · Nov 16

    @CamInman lame as Jed

    JedtheYorkie ‏@JedtheYorkie · Nov 16

    @CamInman they already jacked it up dropping @CoachJim4UM Baalke jacked up many drafts, nothing new here

    1. Great job scoring stat interview
      with Eddie D.. Grant …

      Don’t know how you did it… but I suspect
      you’ll probably cherish that big feather in
      your cap for a long time …

      I know I would !

      Love to be at Levi’s during the ceremony..and
      sure hope the Boo-birds don’t spoil the moment
      for Eddie.. when Dr.York and his offspring
      walk onto the field …

      1. Think there’s a bunch of old Niners there to party with Eddie tonight? Ring banging homecoming party for sure.

  20. These are great quotes from Mooch: “This is Scouting 101,” said Mariucci. “Gio was a Rhodes Scholar (candidate), did really well in the Wonderlic (intelligence test). Was a point guard on the basketball team. He was a captain. He was very athletic. He had a very strong arm. He ran a 4.7 40 (yard dash) … My point is he had all of the measurables academically with intelligence and he had all of the measurables athletically.”

    “We could tell right away that it wasn’t a fit. Something went way wrong when Gio entered a professional huddle. He didn’t know how to handle it.”

    He’s discussing why Carmazzi was a bust and why they didn’t take Brady but these quotes are important for those watching film and checking stat lines while ‘scouting’ QB’s for the upcoming draft.

  21. Zach Banner of USC is a 6’9″, 360lb offensive tackle. Bookend to Trent Brown? \

    Anybody been following him? I haven’t been able to find any draft profiles. He seems to be doing a pretty good job against UCLA.

  22. I’m about to become a Seahawks fan. Just watched a profile of Schneider, who was crazy about Russell Wilson. He’s gregarious, light-hearted, and self-deprecating.

    And we have Trent Fkn Baalke. 49ers will NEVER be relevant as long as Trent Fkn Baalke is on the premises.

  23. The talking heads blabbing about where Romo will end up. There will be QB movements: Romo, maybe Garropolo, possibly Cousins, Glendon, Kap, Cutler.
    So I’m wondering where Kap thinks he’ll be next year.
    Jets? Good luck to all parties in that plan.
    Browns? Never know what they’ll do, but 2 RG3s on roster? Meh.
    Broncos? Romo might cost a trade, CK is free but will hope to be expensive, I think that ship has already sailed.
    Bears? Not a good match for HC is my guess.
    Washington? Not a good match for HC’s system.
    There has been much discussion here about the college class and the seeming lack of a franchise guy.
    So….I dunno….

      1. Kap stay? I think he’s ok w/ Kelly, not so much the FO.
        I also think he will have an over-inflated sense of his market value.
        I’d prefer to reboot, painstaking as that may be.

  24. Reports are coming in stating that Torrey Smith will not play. With Lynch out and Robinson on the mend, it looks like the 49ers will be counting on players who have not done much this year.

    Patriots 60
    49ers 38

    1. We’ll need more than the rain.. Seb ..
      u-hhh … maybe something like the
      “below-sea-level” floor of The Stick .. and
      high tide ..

      1. It’s English — repetitive that is. One on one is exclusive, at least while it’s taking place.

        Grant knows that and so do you. Maybe he has a Stanford intern writing his headlines.

        1. Sir, sorry to parse words, but the exclusivity pertains to no one else being allowed to be granted a one on one interview with the legendary Hall of Famer- Eddie Debartolo.

          if Barrows, Maiocco, Killion, Kawakami and Inman were also granted one on one interviews, Grants ‘ would have been nonexclusive.

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