Brett Favre highlights 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame class
Brett Favre, whose durability and gun-slinging approach to quarterbacking captivated the imagination of football fans for two decades, became the 14th first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback after being voted in on Saturday night.
He became one of eight members of the 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame class. Owner Eddie DeBartolo, Jr., coach Tony Dungy, linebacker/defensive end Kevin Greene, wide receiver Marvin Harrison, tackle Orlando Pace, quarterback Ken Stabler and guard Dick Stanfel also made the cut.
The fact that Favre, 46, made it in his first year of eligibility surprised exactly no one.
"It's an incredible feeling. It really is," Favre said. "I'm well aware of my career and what I've done and I've accepted it for what it is, but Roger Staubach comes on stage and I get goosebumps.
"I'm extremely thankful I'm part of the group, but I honestly feel like I'm not part of the group. And I mean that with the utmost respect."
Favre's legacy is only partly defined by accolades – starting a record 297 consecutive games, becoming the first player in league history to throw 500 touchdown passes, winning three consecutive league MVP awards from 1995 to 1997 -- during a 20-year career that was as remarkable as it was unique.
It’s only partly defined by team success, including the Green Bay Packers’ 160-93 record during Favre’s 16 seasons there from 1992 to 2007. He led the Packers to a 35-21 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI, bringing a world championship to one of the league’s most iconic franchises for the first time in nearly 30 years.
Without question, Favre’s career is also distinguished by how he played. He was a swashbuckling, freewheeling quarterback unafraid to sling the ball – for better or worse – down the field with abandon. Granted, he holds records for most career pass completions and pass attempts. And he’s second in career passing yards (71,838) and touchdown passes (508).
But other hallmarks of his illustrious career? Interceptions. No one has ever thrown more than Favre’s 336. And no one has ever been sacked more.
It’s been a memorable past year for Favre, whose No. 4 Packers’ jersey was retired during a memorable on-field ceremony before 70,000 fans at Lambeau Field in July. That marked the first time Favre had been to his former home stadium since he played there in the second of his two seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.
And Saturday night, as expected, brought a much-deserved achievement for a quarterback whose style football fans are unlikely to see again anytime soon.
DeBartolo, the former 49ers owner enters the Hall of Fame as a contributor. DeBartolo owned the franchise for 23 seasons, including a period between 1981 and 1994 when the 49ers won five Super Bowls. Under DeBartolo’s ownership of the 49ers, the team won 13 NFC West titles, reached the conference championship game 10 times and had 16 playoff appearances.
"First of all, I'm in a state of shock," DeBartolo said. "I'm honored and humbled. I don't know what else I can say."
Dungy, the former Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach, was elected on his fourth year on the ballot. Dungy coached 13 seasons in the league to a 148-79 record, and became the first black head coach in NFL history to win a Super Bowl. He was twice named coach of the year, in the 1997 and 2005 seasons.
"It's very, very emotional for me," Dungy said. "I came into the league in 1997 and I think there were seven or eight African-American head coaches in the league so there weren't very many role models to look up to. But I'm just honored to be able to represent all the people that helped me along the way."
Harrison was selected for the Hall on his third year on the ballot. Harrison played 13 seasons, all of them with Indianapolis. Harrison caught 1,102 passes for 14,580 yards and 128 touchdowns. He had a remarkable stretch of eight-consecutive seasons (1999-2006) with at least 1,000 receiving yards. Harrison’s receptions rank third all-time in NFL history. His receiving total ranks seventh and he is fifth in touchdowns.
"It is so well-deserved," Dungy said of Harrison. "(Harrison is) the most artistic receiver I've been around."
Greene, 53, was elected after 15 seasons in the NFL with the Panthers, 49ers, Steelers and Rams. Greene collected 160 sacks in his career, including 10 double-digit sack seasons.
Pace played 12 seasons for the Rams and one for the Bears in his final year in 2009. Pace started 165 of his 169 career games. Pace was one of the top left tackles in the history of the game and reached seven Pro Bowls. He was also named to the league’s All-Decade Team. Pace had the distinction of blocking for three consecutive MVPs Kurt Warner (1999 and 2001) and Marshall Faulk (2000).
"When I saw those guys running 60 yards down the field, I knew I was a big part of that," Pace said. "There was a lot of pressure on me, but it was fun."
Stabler led the Oakland Raiders to a Super Bowl XI win and earned the nickname "The Snake" for his wild playing style and personality. Stabler died last year on July 8 from colon cancer and was suffering from the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, researchers found.
"He loved football," Stabler's grandson Justin Moyes said of the quarterback. "That was life for him. He was just an ideal man."
Stanfel played for the Detroit Lions from 1952-55 and the Washington Redskins from 1956-58 and was a longtime offensive line coach in the NFL. He died in June 2015.
"Dad was a lunch-box kind of guy," Stanfel's son Rich said. "He just came to work every day."
Follow Eric Prisbell on Twitter @EricPrisbell.
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