R.C. Owens was resting comfortably Monday from his home in the Prestige assisted living facility in Manteca.
Never mind that the bill was 100 percent footed by the National Football League as part of the recent labor negotiations affecting retired players.
Owens has been getting around on a wheelchair while recovering from some health issues. Yet he still made it to the recent Alumni Week capped off by his San Francisco 49ers beating the New York Giants, 27-20, in the highly touted Week 10 NFL affair.
On the eve of that big game, Owens and Roger Craig, who was a star running back during the Niners’ Super Bowl glory years, were enshrined into the Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. SF 49ers Hall of Fame at the Westin Hotel.
It was there that Owens – his signature “Alley Oop” move from 1957 to 1961, his playing days as an NFL wide receiver, became his moniker – and Craig received their red Hall of Fame blazers in a gala event attended by family, friends, and teammates including many of the all-time greats.
Joe Montana, for example, mentioned that Owens’ selection was a long time coming. “He’s been in the organization for as long as I can remember,” he noted.
Owens found out about his Niners’ Hall of Fame selection some six months ago from retired linebacker-turned-VP of Football Affairs for the organization Keena Turner.
“No way,” he recalled saying. “I think you got the wrong the person.”
Owens was the right person. He certainly was the right person selected by the late Bill Walsh back in 1979 – his first year as the 49ers coach – as a special assistant.
First, he worked under the director of alumni affairs and later became the alumni coordinator. Owens was also the director of training camp.
He scouted out Sierra College in Rocklin back when the team had its offseason training camp at the University of Santa Clara. “(Niners linebacker) Dan Bunz suggested Rocklin,” Owens recalled.
He took care of the accommodations, from staffing to housing and transportation. Owens made sure that the Niners with the likes of Montana, Turner, Dwight Clark, and Ronnie Lott, to name a few, got from one end of campus to the other via bicycles.
“There was a local bike guy who brought along and lined up all of these bikes on the asphalt for players to choose,” he said. “They preferred the sturdiness of mountain bikes.”
Owens also took care of family matters come Super Bowl. “All of the families were taken under my wing,” he said.
Even in icy Michigan – the Pontiac Dome was site of the 49ers’ first-ever Super Bowl appearance in 1982 – he made sure family members of the players and staff were taken care of during their stay in the Detroit area. “Even the President (Ronald Reagan) had a tough time getting to the game,” said Owens, who, in fact, was a front office administrator during all five of the SF Super Bowls, spanning 22 years.
He sports Super Bowl rings from the Niners’ second and third championship teams.
Craig’s selection to the SF 49ers Hall of Fame was made possible by online voting by the fans.
Ownership selected Owens for this year’s enshrinement.
“They usually have two selections but this year they chose just me (based on achievements as a player and administrator),” he said. “I was overjoyed.”
The Nov. 11 Hall of Fame event included former general manager John McVay, two-time Super Bowl winning coach George Seifert, and 49ers Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle making the presentation on behalf of Owens.
Current CEO and President Jeb York and former tight end Jamie Williams presented Craig.
The celebration spilled into the next day as Owens and Craig received their Hall of Fame plaques in front of a sold-out crowd at Candlestick Park.
“I was overwhelmed,” Owens said.