Pro Football Hall of Fame 2016: Complete List of NFL Inductees to Canton
The Super Bowl highlights the NFL's biggest weekend of the year, but the Pro Football Hall of Fame took center stage Saturday night by honoring eight legends of the sport.
There were 15 finalists from the modern era on this year's ballot, released Jan. 7. The Hall of Fame selection committee was charged with the difficult task of winnowing down that group to determine the best of the best in football history.
Finding flaws with the list of nominees is impossible, as all of them have a strong case to be included among football's most historic group.
Here's the full list of players, coaches and executives who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the first weekend in August.
Brett Favre, Quarterback
It seems fitting this would be the year Brett Favre, who was on the ballot for the first time, would go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Whatever bad blood may have existed in the past between Favre and the Green Bay Packers was finally put to rest Nov. 26 when the Packers retired his No. 4. He's capping things off with a trip to Canton in the summer to take his place among football's immortals.
And there aren't many quarterbacks in history more deserving of the spot. Just take it from NFL Network's Steve Wyche, who reported it took "nine seconds" to induct Favre, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
The Atlanta Falcons made Favre the 33rd pick in 1991's draft. He appeared in two games that season before being traded to the Packers the following offseason. The gunslinger proceeded to start an NFL-record 321 consecutive games (including playoffs) from 1992 to 2010, leading the Packers to one Super Bowl victory in two appearances.
Favre's career took detours to the New York Jets (2008) and Minnesota Vikings (2009-10) when the Packers turned their ship over to Aaron Rodgers. He proceeded to lead the Vikings to a 12-4 record and an appearance in the NFC Championship Game in his first season with the franchise.
After battling injuries in 2010, Favre opted to call it a career at the age of 41. He finished his career as a three-time MVP, capturing three straight from 1995 to 1997, held the record for most touchdown passes (508) and had 18 consecutive seasons with at least 3,000 passing yards.
Peyton Manning has since broken his touchdown record, but that's not bad company to keep.
Marvin Harrison, Wide Receiver
One of the NFL's quiet superstars during his playing days, wide receiver Marvin Harrison helped usher in a new era for football for 13 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts.
The three-time All-Pro ranks third all time in receptions (1,102), fifth in receiving touchdowns (128) and seventh in receiving yards (14,580).
Harrison's partnership with Peyton Manning, particularly starting with Manning's second season in 1999, changed the way NFL offenses operate with the pass-heavy, spread-out approach used today. He had four consecutive seasons with at least 100 receptions, including an NFL-record 143 in 2002.
The 19th overall pick in 1996, Harrison helped the Colts win their first Super Bowl since moving to Indianapolis during the 2006 season. He was named to eight straight Pro Bowls from 1999 to 2006.
The committee finally gave him his overdue recognition after his third year on the ballot.
Orlando Pace, Tackle
The foundation of every great offense in NFL history starts with a dominant left tackle, so Orlando Pace's induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame felt inevitable.
Although he was forced to wait until his second time on the ballot to get in, he built a sterling resume over 13 seasons with the St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears.
The No. 1 overall pick in 1997, Pace was a rock for the Rams until 2006, when injuries finally took their toll on his body. He was named to seven consecutive Pro Bowls from 1999 to 2005, three All-Pro teams (1999, 2001, 2003) and was named to the NFL's All-Decade team for the 2000s.
When the Rams were breaking offensive records with the "Greatest Show on Turf," playing in two Super Bowls and winning one (1999), Pace was blocking the opposing team's best pass-rusher so Kurt Warner had time to light up the scoreboard. He was also opening holes for Marshall Faulk to provide highlight-reel runs.
It's hard to evaluate the impact an offensive lineman has years after his career ends because linemen don't accrue easily identifiable stats, but Pace was the most dominant player at his position for nearly a decade.
Kevin Greene, Linebacker/Defensive End
One of the NFL's most intense, feared pass-rushers for 15 years, Kevin Greene was a machine for the Los Angeles Rams, Carolina Panthers, Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers.
Coming out of Auburn as an unheralded fifth-round draft pick in 1985, he slowly worked his way into the Rams' starting lineup. His first year as a primary starter was in 1988, when he recorded 16.5 sacks.
That was just a warm-up act for what he would end up doing throughout his career. The owner of long blond hair like something out of an '80s band, Greene made sure opponents remembered who he was, garnering 160 career sacks—third all time.
When he retired from the Panthers following the 1999 season at age 37, he was still getting after the quarterback with 12 sacks. He was unable to capture the ultimate honor of winning a Super Bowl as a player, but he did play in one with the Steelers in 1995.
Greene's individual accolades are more than enough to make him Hall of Fame-worthy, including making three All-Pro teams and five Pro Bowl squads.
Tony Dungy, Coach
Tony Dungy's name is one that gets brought up often for head coaching vacancies, but the 60-year-old doesn't need to boost his sterling resume in hopes of reaching the Hall of Fame.
One of the NFL's most important defensive minds of the last 25 years, Dungy took over a Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchise in 1996 that hadn't made the playoffs in 14 seasons.
He needed just one year to turn the team around, winning 10 games in his second season and leading it to four playoff berths in his next five years before being fired following a 31-9 playoff loss against Philadelphia in 2002.
The Indianapolis Colts immediately hired Dungy, who worked alongside quarterback Peyton Manning to form one of the greatest duos in NFL history. They won at least 10 games in each of their seven seasons together, including winning a Super Bowl in 2006.
Dungy also made history with that Super Bowl victory, becoming the first African-American head coach in the NFL to capture that honor.
In terms of his contributions to the NFL, as well as his historical relevance due to that Super Bowl win, Dungy's induction felt like only a matter of time.
Ken Stabler, Quarterback
Nominated by the Seniors Committee, quarterback Ken Stabler will be inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame a year after his death.
The flamboyant Stabler rode the bench as a member of the Oakland Raiders for his first three seasons before taking over as starting quarterback in 1973. He led the NFL in completion percentage (62.7) that season as well as in 1976. He also led the NFL in touchdown passes twice and was the league's MVP in 1974.
Stabler's crowning achievement in the NFL was leading the Raiders to a victory in Super Bowl XI, completing 12 of his 19 passes for 180 yards and one touchdown while helping wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff earn MVP honors.
Even though Stabler's passing numbers are dwarfed by today's standards, he had 27,938 yards and 194 touchdowns during a time when throwing 300 passes in a season was a rarity. His swagger sometimes got him in trouble, as his 222 interceptions indicate, but his confidence made him a superstar.
Eddie DeBartolo Jr., Owner
Eddie DeBartolo Jr., one of the most important figures in 49ers history, has finally been given a seat in the Pro Football Hall of Fame after being named a finalist by the Contributor Committee, which NFL.com noted "considers persons who made outstanding contributions to professional football other than players and coaches."
It would be hard to understate DeBartolo's importance during San Francisco's run of dominance during his time as the owner of the franchise from 1977 to 2000. He brought on head coach Bill Walsh in 1979 and acquired Hall of Fame talent such as Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, Jerry Rice, Steve Young and Fred Dean.
Under DeBartolo's ownership, the 49ers earned five Super Bowl titles and won at least 10 games in 16 consecutive seasons from 1983 to 1998, making 15 playoff appearances during that span.
There are only two franchises in NFL history with as many Super Bowl victories as the 49ers: the Cowboys and Steelers.
Given the way San Francisco has been operating recently, it's become clear how much a franchise's success depends on having the right people at the top. DeBartolo left an indelible mark on the 49ers that everyone has been chasing in the 15 years since he stepped down.
Dick Stanfel, Guard
One of the two Seniors Committee nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year, legendary offensive lineman Dick Stanfel will finally be enshrined in Canton.
Stanfel spent his seven-year playing career with Detroit and Washington. He appeared in 73 games from 1952 to 1958, making five All-Pro teams and five Pro Bowls before being named to the NFL's All-Decade squad. He also won two NFL championships with the Lions in 1952 and 1953.
In addition to his efforts on the field, Stanfel won a Super Bowl as the offensive line coach for the 1985 Chicago Bears. His ability as a blocker made him a legendary figure.
A year after his death, Stanfel will posthumously get his rightful honor as one of the NFL's best, most important offensive linemen.