SAN FRANCISCO — Packers legendary quarterback Brett Favre, who retired as the NFL’s all-time leading passer with 71,838 yards and 508 touchdown passes, and scrambling quarterback Kenny “The Snake” Stabler, who led the Raiders to a Super Bowl title with his trademark resourcefulness, were selected Saturday night to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The eight-man class also included former 49ers owner Ed DeBartolo Jr., whose teams set a new standard of excellence in the 1980s and 1990s by combining for five Super Bowl titles, former Buccaneers and Colts coach Tony Dungy, the first African American head coach to win the Super Bowl, Rams offensive tackle Orlando Pace, pass rusher Kevin Greene (Rams, Panthers, Steelers), Colts receiver Marvin Harrison and senior selection Dick Stanfel, a guard for Detroit and Washington. Stanfel and Stabler were senior selections.
Favre earned three straight MVP awards from 1995-97 and led the 1996 Packers to a Super Bowl title when he beat Bill Parcells’ Patriots. He played 20 seasons and was the NFL’s career leader with 6,300 completions and 10,169 attempts. He also had an NFL record 336 interceptions, a reflection of his daring downfield style.
“It’s an incredible feeling,” Favre said. “[Former Cowboys star] Ed ‘Too Tall’ Jones came up and I was like, ‘He’s actually talking to me.’ I’m grateful to be a part of the group. I don’t really feel as if I am, and I say that out of respect.”
Stabler, who died in July of colon cancer at age 69 and was found to have the neurodegenerative disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), led the 1976 Raiders to the Super Bowl title, and he was named the NFL’s MVP in 1974.
Dungy helped revive the moribund Buccaneers franchise before joining the Colts and eventually winning the team’s only Super Bowl title since the franchise relocated from Baltimore to Indianapolis.
“We lost our first five games in Tampa, and it didn’t look like I was headed this way at all,” Dungy said. He added that he didn’t have many role models as an African American coach, but cited former Vikings coach Dennis Green’s help along the way. Dungy said of his run in Indianapolis, “It was a tremendous time in my life.”
Dungy’s top receiver in Indianapolis was Harrison, whose precise route running quickly made him a favorite of Peyton Manning. Dungy called Harrison “the most artistic receiver ever.” He hadn’t yet spoken to Harrison, who kept a low profile throughout his career with the Colts. “I have not talked to Marvin yet,” Dungy said. “Which is not surprising.”
DeBartolo called it a dream come true to reach the Hall of Fame. His selection may have been delayed by his involvement in a bribery scandal in 1999 involving a Louisiana casino deal. He pleaded guilty to a felony charge of failing to report an alleged bribery attempt by then Gov. Edwin Edwards and was suspended for a year by NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue. DeBartolo eventually ceded control of the team to his sister, Denise DeBartolo York.
“I don’t know if anyone could ever write a better script,” DeBartolo said of his induction.
Noticeably absent from this year’s class is former 49ers receiver Terrell Owens, who retired as the NFL’s second-leading receiver with 15,934 yards and 153 touchdowns, third in NFL history. Owens’ numbers were certainly Hall of Fame worthy, but his frequent run-ins with teammates and coaches in San Francisco, Dallas and Philadelphia were a blight on his career and cost him a chance at a first-ballot vote into the Hall of Fame.
Other finalists who didn’t make it into the Hall of Fame were Rams, Giants and Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, Cardinals and Chargers coach Don Coryell, Broncos running back Terrell Davis, Washington offensive lineman Joe Jacoby and safeties Steve Atwater (Broncos, Jets) and John Lynch (Buccaneers, Broncos).