SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Strong-armed quarterback Brett Favre, an ironman at the position and a bold playmaker, headlined the eight-member Class of 2016 voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.
Favre, who retired five years ago, was elected in his first year of eligibility after a 20-year NFL career that included a Super Bowl title with the Green Bay Packers in the 1996 season.
When he left the game, the three-time NFL Most Valuable Player reigned as the league’s all-time leader in completions, yards and passing touchdowns.
Joining Favre into the Canton, Ohio, shrine are coach Tony Dungy, wide receiver Marvin Harrison, pass-rusher Kevin Greene, tackle Orlando Pace, quarterback Ken Stabler, guard Dick Stanfel and former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo, Jr.
Stabler’s election came four days after results of a study of the former Oakland Raiders quarterback’s brain revealed that the Super Bowl winner was suffering from the degenerative brain disease CTE, which is linked to repeated head trauma, before his death last July.
Favre, who played 16 seasons with Green Bay, proved to be the most durable player ever in the NFL and tops the all-time list for consecutive starts with 297, 321 including playoffs.
After the Class of 2016 was introduced during the NFL Honors ceremony, fellow Hall of Famers in the audience joined them on stage to congratulate them.
”Roger Staubach comes up on stage, I still get goosebumps,“ said Favre. ”That was my childhood hero, Dallas Cowboys were my team.
”Last night, (former Cowboys defensive end) Ed ‘Too Tall’ Jones comes up and says hello. And I‘m like, ‘he’s actually talking to me?’ That’s how I feel.
“I‘m extremely thankful that I‘m part of the group but I don’t necessarily feel like part of the group.”
It was a big night for the Colts as Dungy, the first African American coach to win a Super Bowl when he triumphed with the Colts, won election in the same class as Harrison, one of Manning’s favorite targets on that powerful Indianapolis team.
”This is very, very emotional for me,“ said Dungy, who also coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. ”When I came into the league there were seven or eight African American assistant coaches in the league.
“I had a lot of people that believed in me and I‘m very honored to represent those men.”
Dungy said both he and Harrison owe a debt of gratitude to Manning, who at age 39 will be starting in Sunday’s Super Bowl against the Carolina Panthers.
“When you go in as a coach, it’s because of all those great players,” he said.
The Class of 2016 will be formally enshrined on Aug. 6.
Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Frank Pingue