SAN FRANCISCO -- Quarterback Brett Favre figures to be the only slam dunk choice to the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2016 when the 46-person selection committee meets at Moscone Center Saturday to decide who among the 18 finalists will be enshrined this year.
Favre, a dynamic quarterback for the Green Bay Packers from 1992 through 2007, is one of three candidates in their first year of eligibility. The others are wide receiver Terrell Owens and guard Alan Faneca.
Favre, from Southern Mississippi, was drafted in 1991 by the Atlanta Falcons, where coach Jerry Glanville was all too happy to trade him to the Packers when that team's general manager, Ron Wolf made the offer. It was one of the most significant trades in NFL history as Favre was the NFL's Most Valuable Player three consecutive years (1995-97) and led the Packers to a Super Bowl XXXI victory.
He established playoff records for attempts (791), completions (481), yards (5,855) and consecutive games with a TD pass (20).
Owens, an impressive 6-foot-3, 225-pound athlete from Tennessee-Chattanooga, had 16 seasons with five teams (San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas, Buffalo and Cincinnati) and collected the second most yards receiving in a career, behind only the great Jerry Rice.
Owens had a spectacular, three-year stretch (2000-02) in which he caught 290 passes for 4,163 yards and 42 touchdowns. In a career that included nine 1,000-yard seasons over an 11-year stretch, Owens retired reluctantly in 2010 after collecting 1,078 receptions for 15,934 yards (14.8 per catch) and 153 touchdowns.
One of his more historic games came in Super Bowl XXXIX. Starting for the Philadelphia Eagles only six weeks after he broke his leg, Owens caught nine passes for 122 yards and would have been the game's MVP, but the Eagles lost to the New England Patriots, 24-21.
Owens invited criticism throughout his career with sideline demeanor that was menacing to teammates and, although really harmless fun, touchdown celebrations that irritated people. Most memorable celebration was with the 49ers when he scored touchdowns at Dallas and ran to the center of the field and looked up through the hole in the roof.
He was tackled by enraged Cowboys safety George Teague, who was ejected from the game. Owens was suspended for a week by the 49ers.
However, his celebration on the star was perhaps a great example of how much he is misunderstood. Before that game Owens was told that the hole in the roof was "for God to watch America's team." Owens explained to deaf ears that he ran to the star and looked through the hole "So God could witness the celebration."
After the selection committee wrestles to its decision Saturday, the Class of 2016 will be announced on NFL Network.
Here is a complete list of the finalists, starting with Modern Era nominees, their positions, years and teams, years eligible and number of times, years as finalist:
--Morten Andersen, Kicker - 1982-1994 New Orleans Saints, 1995-2000, 2006-07 Atlanta Falcons, 2001 New York Giants, 2002-03 Kansas City Chiefs, 2004 Minnesota Vikings. Fourth year of eligibility. Third year as finalist (2014-16).
--Steve Atwater, Safety - 1989-1998 Denver Broncos, 1999 New York Jets. Twelfth year of eligibility. First year as finalist.
--Terrell Davis, Running Back - 1995-2001 Denver Broncos. Tenth year of eligibility. Second year as finalist (2015-16).
--Brett Favre, Quarterback - 1991 Atlanta Falcons, 1992-2007 Green Bay Packers, 2008 New York Jets, 2009-2010 Minnesota Vikings. First year of eligibility.
--Kevin Greene, Linebacker/Defensive End - 1985-1992 Los Angeles Rams, 1993-95 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1996, 1998-99 Carolina Panthers, 1997 San Francisco 49ers. Twelfth year of eligibility. Fifth year as finalist (2012-16).
--Marvin Harrison, Wide Receiver - 1996-2008 Indianapolis Colts. Third year of eligibility. Third year as finalist (2014-16).
--Joe Jacoby, Tackle - 1981-1993 Washington Redskins. Twelfth year of eligibility. First year as finalist.
--John Lynch, Free Safety - 1993-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2004-07 Denver Broncos. Fourth year of eligibility. Third year as finalist (2014-16).
--Kurt Warner, Quarterback - 1998-2003 St. Louis Rams, 2004 New York Giants, 2005-09 Arizona Cardinals. Second year of eligibility. Second year as finalist (2015-16).
Two Seniors Finalists:
--Ken Stabler, Quarterback - 1970-1979 Oakland Raiders, 1980-1981 Houston Oilers, 1982-1984 New Orleans Saints. Seniors nominee. Twenty seventh (27th) year of eligibility. Fourth year as finalist, first as seniors nominee finalist and first as nominee of Seniors subcommittee (1990-91; 2003, 2016-s).
--Dick Stanfel, Guard - 1952-55 Detroit Lions, 1956-58 Washington Redskins. Fifty-fourth (54th) year of eligibility. Third year as finalist, all as seniors nominee, first as nominee of Seniors subcommittee (1993, 2012, 2016).
One contributor Finalist:
--Edward DeBartolo, Jr., Owner - 1977-2000 San Francisco 49ers. Fourth year as finalist, first as nominee of Contributor Subcommittee.
The selection committee meeting begins at dawn on Selection Saturday and the first nominees discussed, and voted upon, are those named as finalists by subcommittee for seniors -- Stabler and Stanfel -- and by the subcommittee for contributors, which named DeBartolo.
After a thorough discussion, the selectors are asked to vote yes or no on each of them, meaning these three are considered independent of all others and even each other. It takes an 80 percent yes vote for these three to become an enshrinee. Period.
That is usually considered the easy part of the day, although each of those candidates may easily spark a feisty discussion.
That done, the committee discusses each of the so-called modern day candidates, including coach Coryell although this is his 29th year of eligibility and third time as a finalist.
There is a cutdown from 15 to 10, then 10 to five..
The final part of that process is votes of yes or no on the final five. Again, 80 percent yes votes are required to make the Class of 2016.
Representatives of the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche tabulate the tallies all day.
Although there is no set number for any class of enshrinees, the Hall of Fame's current ground rules stipulate that between four and eight new members will be selected each year. No more than five Modern-Era Finalists can be elected in a given year, so a class of six, seven, or eight can only be achieved if the contributor finalist and/or one or both of the senior finalists are elected.
--Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and is a selector for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and a member of the Seniors Selection Subcommittee.