When Carmen Policy said, “Winning with class,” it was not a slogan. It was a moral imperative. Under his guidance, along with Edward DeBartolo Jr. and Bill Walsh, the San Francisco 49ers became the model of an enlightened, winning sports franchise. Carmen was a sports phenomenon, a lawyer, a brilliant negotiator, a skilled reader of people and an intellectual. He started working for the 49ers as outside counsel and advisor to DeBartolo in 1979 handling legal matters and player contracts. He formally joined the 49ers in 1983 as Vice President and General Legal Counsel and took over as 49ers Chief Executive in 1991. His presence was at first quiet. His name didn’t appear in the 1983 or 1984 49ers media guides. He was a force waiting in the wings. He appeared in the 1985 media guide as V.P. & General Counsel. Soon, he had his own page. There was Carmen’s photo and at the top of the page was the title: “President.” Along with DeBartolo, he led the 49ers to four of their five Super Bowl victories. “Carmen played a critical role in the 49ers’ success during their record-setting Super Bowl years,” former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said. “He provided visionary leadership and delivered forthright, wise, and consensus-building counsel. In his uniquely charming way, Carmen was fiercely competitive and protective of his beloved team and the city of San Francisco.” In 1994 The Sporting News and Pro Football Weekly named Carmen NFL Executive of the Year. “Carmen was one of my best friends before my family thought of buying the 49ers,” DeBartolo said. “He began as one of the most unheralded executives in the NFL.  However, two former Commissioners Pete Rozelle and Paul Tagliabue, have acknowledged that he was one of most knowledgeable and respected executives the NFL ever had. The franchise would never have been the same without him. You can’t put a dollar value on how important he was to me, not only with the 49ers but as a friend whom I trusted with my life.”

Narrative by Lowell Cohn