Former Green Bay Packer quarterback Brett Favre is headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Photo by Frank Polich/UPI | License Photo
Here is a chance to take a shot at naming which candidates should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2016, which will be decided on Feb. 6, the day before Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, Calif.
Necessary material is included below, and good luck with that. Regardless of who is selected, second-guessers will name an entirely different list, which endears them to those who missed -- an easy chore when they don't also suggest who should be displaced.
But read on. The candidates are all listed here.
Early feedback suggests that only quarterback Brett Favre will be a slam dunk, and then perhaps only after token gripes about his drawn-out retirement. Why? Because they can.
There should be more drama regarding wide receiver Terrell Owens, who apparently is no slam dunk and could cause considerable conversation, if not consternation.
The Hall of Fame candidates are topical now because the selection committee' votes are due Friday (Dec. 18) to reduce the list of 25 semifinal modern-era prospects to the 15 finalists. Those 15 will join previously nominated seniors -- quarterback Ken Stabler and lineman Dick Stanfel -- and contributor/owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. on the full roster of finalists.
The list of 25 includes four first time semifinalists -- Favre, Owens, offensive tackle Tony Boselli and linebacker Sam Mills.
However, only Favre and Owens are true first-ballot prospects because Boselli and Mills were eligible previously but did not make it this far.
The only way Favre is not voted in would be if he decides to come out of retirement before the season ends. Relax, that is meant to be humor.
Although Owens has statistics second only in NFL history to the fabled Jerry Rice, according to feedback from fellow selectors, his popularity is tainted by his antics on and off the field -- although the latter is not supposed to be a consideration. He allegedly caused grief for coaches, quarterbacks and other teammates on the sideline and in the locker room.
We can name a few wide receivers already in the Hall of Fame who were no walk in the park in their locker rooms, especially after a tough loss.
Owens gets the vote from here because he did perform for several teams when on the field, including one memorable Super Bowl while with Philadelphia in which he returned prematurely from a broken leg and made a spectacular play early in the game.
OK, he stomped on the star in Dallas, threw popcorn in his face after one touchdown, autographed a ball with a Sharpie after another and even grabbed a cheerleader's pompoms and waived them around. And there were those sit-ups in his driveway with film at 11. So what? His play was HOF level. Put him in.
This job is difficult enough, and petty issues should not make the difference between inducting a player in the HOF as soon as possible based simply on his achievements or believing it is just to punish him, make him wait, for doing things only somewhat related with his performance on the field.
When the HOF selection meeting is held in February, we strongly believe Stabler, Stanfel and DeBartolo should be whisked in. Each faces a "yes" or "no" vote, and it takes an 80 percent "yes" tally to make it.
It is only fitting that they make it when the 2016 Class is announced in the Bay Area. Stabler starred in Oakland, Stanfel was a University of San Francisco star before playing with the Detroit Lions, and DeBartolo is responsible for changing a long-suffering San Francisco team into an NFL dynasty.
Now, let's consider the rest of the pack.
We break them into two groups -- our top 15 right here, right now, and the rest of the field below that. Minds may change between now and Super Bowl week, but here is the breakdown as we see it now:
Proposed top 15, alphabetically:
--Morten Andersen, K -- 1982-94 New Orleans Saints, 1995-2000 and 2006-07 Atlanta Falcons, 2001 New York Giants, 2002-03 Kansas City Chiefs, 2004 Minnesota Vikings; four times as a semifinalist, 2013-16
--Isaac Bruce, WR -- 1994-2007 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 2008-09 San Francisco 49ers; two times as a semifinalist, 2015-16
--Don Coryell, coach -- 1973-77 St. Louis Cardinals, 1978-86 San Diego Chargers; eight times as a semifinalist, 2005, 2010-16
--Roger Craig, RB -- 1983-90 San Francisco 49ers, 1991 Los Angeles Raiders, 1992-93 Minnesota Vikings; eight times as a semifinalist, 2009-16
--Terrell Davis, RB -- 1995-2001 Denver Broncos; 10 times as a semifinalist, 2007-16
--Brett Favre, QB -- 1991 Atlanta Falcons, 1992-2007 Green Bay Packers, 2008 New York Jets, 2009-10 Minnesota Vikings; first time as a semifinalist
--Kevin Greene, LB/DE -- 1985-92 Los Angeles Rams, 1993-95 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1996 and 1998-99 Carolina Panthers, 1997 San Francisco 49ers; 10 times as a semifinalist, 2007-16
--Marvin Harrison, WR -- 1996-2008 Indianapolis Colts; three times as a semifinalist, 2014-16
--Torry Holt, WR -- 1999-2008 St. Louis Rams, 2009 Jacksonville Jaguars; two times as semifinalist, 2015-16
--Joe Jacoby, T -- 1981-93 Washington Redskins; six times as a semifinalist, 2005, 2008, 2013-16
--Edgerrin James, RB -- 1999-2005 Indianapolis Colts, 2006-08 Arizona Cardinals, 2009 Seattle Seahawks; two times as a semifinalist, 2015-16
--Sam Mills, LB -- 1986-94 New Orleans Saints, 1995-97 Carolina Panthers; first time as a semifinalist
--Terrell Owens, WR -- 1996-2003 San Francisco 49ers, 2004-05 Philadelphia Eagles, 2006-08 Dallas Cowboys, 2009 Buffalo Bills, 2010 Cincinnati Bengals; first time as a semifinalist
--Orlando Pace, T -- 1997-2008 St. Louis Rams, 2009 Chicago Bears; two times as a semifinalist, 2015-16
--Kurt Warner, QB -- 1998-2003 St. Louis Rams, 2004 New York Giants, 2005-09 Arizona Cardinals; two times as a semifinalist, 2015-16
The rest of the 2016 modern era nominees:
--Steve Atwater, S -- 1989-98 Denver Broncos, 1999 New York Jets; five times as a semifinalist, 2012-16
--Tony Boselli, T -- 1995-2001 Jacksonville Jaguars, 2002 Houston Texans; first time as a semifinalist
--Tony Dungy, coach -- 1996-2001 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2002-08 Indianapolis Colts; three times as a semifinalist, 2014-16
--Alan Faneca, G -- 1998-2007 Pittsburgh Steelers, 2008-09 New York Jets, 2010 Arizona Cardinals; first time as a semifinalist
--Jimmy Johnson, coach -- 1989-93 Dallas Cowboys, 1996-99 Miami Dolphins; three times as a semifinalist, 2014-16
--Mike Kenn, T -- 1978-94 Atlanta Falcons; two times as a semifinalist, 2015-16
--Ty Law, CB -- 1995-2004 New England Patriots, 2005 and 2008 New York Jets, 2006-07 Kansas City Chiefs, 2009 Denver Broncos; two times as a semifinalist, 2015-16
--John Lynch, FS -- 1993-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2004-07 Denver Broncos; four times as a semifinalist, 2013-16
--Kevin Mawae, C/G -- 1994-97 Seattle Seahawks, 1998-2005 New York Jets, 2006-09 Tennessee Titans; two times as a semifinalist, 2015-16
--Karl Mecklenburg, LB -- 1983-94 Denver Broncos; five times as a semifinalist, 2012-16
Although there is no set number of enshrinees for any Hall of Fame Class, the Pro Football Hall of Fame's current bylaws 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. Therefore, a class of six, seven or eight can only be achieved if one or more of the contributor and seniors finalists are elected.
--Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is a native of San Francisco, in his sixth decade covering football and is a selector for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Seniors sub-committee.