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49ers legend attends massive Empire event

May 30, 2022 at 8:15 AM--

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San Francisco 49ers fans from all over the United States gathered at the "All Niner Empire First Annual Nationwide Barbecue" in San Antonio, Texas. The San Antonio Niner Empire Chapter hosted the three-day event. Niner Empire founder Joe Lenore said he always wanted to have a big barbecue with all of the fans across the world.

"What I wanted to do each year is to have one big barbecue in different regions of the United States," Lenore said. "You may come out to these other states, or Germany, London, or Mexico. It's hard to find, but we could go around the corner and find some Niner stuff people coming out here together in Texas."

Lenore, whose favorite 49ers player is Ronnie Lott, said he wants to have a representation of 49ers fans across the United States.

"I am constantly getting hit up on new chapters like San Marcos and Waco," Lenore said. "I want them to understand what brings people together and make people making sure that when the Niners are losing, we can still have a beer in Timbuktu."

The weekend-long event started on May 27th, where fans from Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Houston, and other cities for a meet and greet at the Smoke Sky Bar.

San Antonio Niner Empire president Josselyn Martinez said the San Francisco 49ers bring everyone together regardless of what is happening.

"Honestly, I feel proud knowing that everyone can put everything aside and be here for the love of a football team," Martinez said. "There are fans of other teams that are like you; all are great. It is because we love our team. We're a family, and our team brings us together."

The barbecue was held at Comanche Park on May 28th and had free food, drinks, souvenirs for fans to take, and a musical performance by Travis King. King, who has performed at 49ers halftime shows, said the San Antonio Chapter reached out to him about coming to the barbecue.

"I would not have missed this for the world," King said. "Texas has a great 49ers fan base, and from my personal experience, I had to make sure I was here."

The Bay Area rapper said his first impression of San Antonio is it may be hot, but the people are amazing.

"Everyone has smiles on their faces and the southern hospitality vibe," King said. "I absolutely love it."

Later on that night, Pat O'Brien's, a restaurant in the city, hosted an outdoor party. The celebration ended with a riverboat ride on San Antonio's Riverwalk on Sunday afternoon.

49ers great Jesse Sapolu, who played guard and center for the five-time champions, was at the barbecue signing autographs and taking photos with fans.

"I spoke to my wife about really going to a Niner celebration in Dallas Cowboy Country," Sapolu said. "We saw the evidence of how the fans travel last year, so I know we have a strong fan base."

Sapolu, who was drafted out of Hawaii in the 11th round of the 1983 NFL draft, and played all 14 seasons with the 49ers, said he comes back every year to talk to the current players about what it means to play on four Super Bowl Championship teams.

"There's a lot of pressure on them trying to live up to what we did," Sapolu said. "I'm trying to encourage them to do what we did but do it your way."

Niner fans like Benny Curry get excited when he sees other 49ers fans from other cities, hugging and connecting with them.

May's 49ers fans of the month said the barbecue is their one-year anniversary. When he introduced himself to his now-wife Betsy, Eric Cantu said he knew she was the one. Eric said he was a Niner fan from childbirth, but Betsy would become a fan because of her ex-boyfriend.

"It was meant to be," Eric said. "I thank that guy every day. I am like, 'Thank you for breaking up with her so I can have her.'"

The Cantu's married in April but met at last year's 49ers barbecue in Dallas.

For more information about the Niner Empire, visit the, where it will give you information about the chapters in your area.
  • Written by:
    Sports has been my first love since I was 12 years old. At one point I wanted to play football professionally. I started to take photography as a hobby in my teenage years but this was when I followed sports. I started to listen to sports radio, I found my true calling and it was to be a sports talk show host. Though I follow football and basketball, I started to have a new love of cultures around the world. After graduating from San Antonio College in 2018, I worked for the Castroville News Bulletin before going to A&M San Antonio to get my communications degree. Since I have written for the Ranger of San Antonio College, the News Bulletin and the Mesquite of Texas A&M San Antonio, I met many people and went to a lot of events. My major milestone was being in the press box of the San Antonio Commanders game for the Mesquite and being apart of a press conference with the Medina County Sheriff and other local news outlets. When I am not doing anything, I like to watch old cartoons on the DC Universe, play video games such as Mega Man and the Mass Effect series. I have also created Youtube channel called "Anger Management" with my friend Aaron Donnell.

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