Jackson’s Dungy, ex-Lion Stanfel elected to Hall
San Francisco — Brett Favre and the late Ken Stabler, a pair of kindred-spirit QBs who each won a Super Bowl, were elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.
Also voted in for the class of 2016 a day before the Super Bowl were modern-day players Kevin Greene, Marvin Harrison and Orlando Pace, coach Tony Dungy, contributor Ed DeBartolo Jr., and senior selection Dick Stanfel.
The freewheeling Favre, as expected, was a first-ballot entry, a reward for a long and distinguished career, mostly with the Green Bay Packers, that included three consecutive NFL MVP awards from 1995-97 and a championship in the 1997 Super Bowl.
Stabler, a left-hander nicknamed “Snake” for his ability to slither past defenders, goes into the Hall as a senior selection about six months after dying of colon cancer at age 69 — and just days after researchers said his brain showed widespread signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
CTE is a disease linked to repeated brain trauma and associated with symptoms such as memory loss, depression and progressive dementia. It has been found in the brains of dozens of former football players, including one of last year’s Hall inductees, Junior Seau, who committed suicide in 2012 at 43.
Stabler was the 1974 league MVP and helped the Oakland Raiders win the 1977 Super Bowl. He was represented at Saturday’s announcement by two of his grandsons.
Favre played for 20 seasons, eventually retiring — after famously vacillating about whether to walk away from the game — as the NFL’s career leader with 6,300 completions, 10,169 attempts, 71,838 yards and 508 TDs. He never met a pass he was afraid to throw, no matter how ill-advised it might have seemed, and wound up with a record 336 interceptions, the trade-off for his high-risk, high-reward, entertaining style.
Before Green Bay, he briefly was a member of the Atlanta Falcons. Afterward, he had short stints with the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings.
Five nominees were eliminated in the final vote: coach Don Coryell, running back Terrell Davis, offensive lineman Joe Jacoby, safety John Lynch, and quarterback Kurt Warner.
Earlier Saturday, the selection committee reduced the list of 15 modern-day finalists by cutting wide receiver Terrell Owens, running back Edgerrin James, safety Steve Atwater, guard Alan Faneca and kicker Morten Andersen.
A candidate needs 80 percent of the vote to get in.
The induction ceremony is in August in Canton, Ohio.
Greene was a linebacker and defensive end who accumulated 160 sacks while harassing quarterbacks for four teams across 15 seasons. A three-time All-Pro selection, he broke in with the Rams in 1985 and closed his career with the Panthers in 1999.
Harrison, Peyton Manning’s top receiver while with the Indianapolis Colts from 1996-08, holds the record for most catches in a season: a hard-to-fathom 143 in 2002. At the time of his retirement, Harrison ranked second only to Hall of Famer Jerry Rice in NFL history with 1,102 catches and most consecutive games with a catch (190).
Harrison was a six-time All-Pro pick, combining with Manning on 953 completions for 12,766 yards and 112 TDs, all league records for a quarterback-receiver duo.
Pace, like Favre in his first year of Hall eligibility, was an imposing left tackle who blocked for the winners of three consecutive NFL MVP awards during his 13-year career, the first dozen with the Rams. He started all 16 games in seven seasons and was an All-Pro five times.
Dungy coached Manning, Harrison and the rest of the Colts to victory in the 2006 Super Bowl, becoming the first black head coach to win the championship. Indianapolis reached the playoffs during every season he was its coach, from 2002-08. In his previous job, he turned around a woebegone Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchise, taking it to four postseason trips in six years.
DeBartolo was elected, fittingly, in the city where he owned the 49ers for nearly a quarter-century. In 1979, two years after buying the team, DeBartolo hired Bill Walsh as coach and drafted quarterback Joe Montana, leading to an unprecedented run of success that included five Super Bowl titles.
DeBartolo became embroiled in the corruption case against former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards and was suspended for the 1999 season by the NFL after being found guilty of failing to report a bribe. After the suspension, DeBartolo gave control of the team to his sister.
Stanfel, who died last year, was a guard for the Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins for a total of seven seasons, earning first-team All-Pro honors five times. While still at top of his game, he retired at age 31 to pursue a coaching career.
Cam Newton is now a Super Bowl quarterback with an NFL award.
And Ron Rivera is a Super Bowl coach with an honor of his own.
The Carolina Panthers star won The Associated Press NFL Offensive Player of the Year honor on Saturday night. Then, Rivera took his second Coach of the Year award.
Newton was not on hand at NFL Honors to accept the award; he is kind of busy preparing for a little game on Sunday against Denver. But just as he has for much of the week — for most of the season, really — Newton still was a dominant figure.
His father, mother and two brothers accepted the award.
“Cam took an unconventional journey to get here and we’re just so proud of what has happened, my family and I,” said Newton’s father Cecil. “So many thanks go out to so many people, from Pop Warner to the Panthers. I don’t have time to tell you all, ‘Thank you.’ You know who you are. We know who you are.”
Newton earned 18 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 sports writers and broadcasters who regularly cover the NFL. Steelers receiver Antonio Brown was next with 10.
The All-Pro quarterback set an NFL mark for the position with 45 touchdowns this season: 35 passing and 10 rushing. He also ranked sixth in passer rating (99.4), while throwing for 3,837 yards. His 636 yards on the ground easily led all QBs, and the 10 touchdowns rushing were more than All-Pro running back Doug Martin of Tampa Bay scored.
Rivera led the Panthers to an unprecedented third straight NFC South title and two playoff victories. In a season featuring several outstanding coaching jobs, Rivera easily outdistanced the field. He received 36 1/2 votes, far in front of Kansas City’s Andy Reid with six votes.
Rivera also won the award two years ago.
Houston end J.J. Watt won his third Defensive Player of the Award in five pro seasons. He also won it in 2012 and last year, when he was a unanimous choice.
This time, in tying Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor as the only players to take the award three times, Watt earned 37 votes.
Watt spoke about playing football in the yard with his brothers while growing up in Wisconsin, pretending to be Packers stars Reggie White or Brett Favre.
“There might be kids out there pretending that they’re wearing No. 99 is literally one of the coolest things in the entire world,” Watt said. “I was a 2-star recruit … going into college, and now I have three Defensive Player of the Year trophies, so (take that) all you guys who doubted me.”
Kansas City safety Eric Berry gave an emotionally charged speech while accepting Comeback Player of the Year. At one point, his eyes welled with tears and he paused before accepting the award.
Berry missed 10 games the previous season battling lymphoma, then returned to the Chiefs to become an All-Pro. His inspirational story and superb performance on the field earned him 38 votes.
“Everybody, just live out your dreams. Don’t let anything come in between,” Berry said. “I’m truly honored, truly blessed, truly thankful to be standing here before you all. … It was some tough times. It was some times where I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. … There was a lot of rough times, a lot of rough nights, a lot of lonely nights.”
And now, a rewarding night.
His teammate, cornerback Marcus Peters, took Defensive Rookie of the Year. Peters tied for the league lead with eight interceptions in helping the Chiefs make the playoffs. He received 45 votes.
Rams running back Todd Gurley took Offensive Rookie with 27 votes, well ahead of the 17 for Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston, the first overall pick in last year’s draft. Gurley missed the first two games of 2015, then went on a tear that included four straight 100-yard rushing performances: 146, 159, 128 and 133 yards. He finished the season third in league rushing and scored 10 touchdowns.
His voice cracked with emotion as he mentioned coming back from his ACL injury. And at the end of his speech, he referenced the Rams’ impending move from St. Louis to Los Angeles.
“I just want to say something to the St. Louis fans: I know you all might be disappointed that we might be leaving but, you know, it’s out of our control,” Gurley said.
Wade Phillips’ work in turning the Denver defense into the stingiest in the NFL got him the Assistant Coach of the Year award. The Broncos ranked first overall against the pass, third versus the run.
Phillips, who has been a head coach for three franchises and interim for three more, received 16 votes, twice that of Hue Jackson, the Bengals’ offensive coordinator in 2015 and now Cleveland’s coach.
Aaron Rodgers’ Hail Mary pass to beat the Lions in a nationall televised prime-time game was named play of the year.