SAN FRANCISCO — The Bay Area had plenty of reason to rejoice on Super Bowl Eve.
Former Oakland Raiders great Ken Stabler and 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo were both elected to the Hall of Fame on Saturday, joining former Colts receiver Marvin Harrison; Colts and Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy; Rams offensive tackle Orlando Pace; former Lions offensive lineman and Saints interim head coach Dick Stanfel; longtime pass rusher Kevin Greene; and legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre.
Favre was the only player in the 2016 class elected on the first ballot.
Former Saints kicker Morten Andersen and Pittsburgh Steelers guard Alan Faneca, an LSU great, were finalists — this was Andersen’s third time, while Faneca was in his first year of eligibility — but will have to wait another year.
Favre, deservedly, is the headliner of the class, a man who retired holding nearly every passing record and still holds the ironman record with 298 straight games started.
But for Oakland, and for Saints fans, Stabler’s induction was an emotional and bittersweet announcement, with his grandsons, Jack and Justin Moyes — football players themselves — standing on stage in his place.
“In my opinion, he was the ideal man,” Justin Moyes said. “He had so much love for everyone. ... He never turned down an autograph for anyone. He was my role model.”
Stabler, who died of colon cancer at 69 last summer, had been a finalist for the Hall of Fame three times. Earlier this week, it was revealed that Stabler suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, more commonly known as CTE, the brain disease caused by repeated concussions.
Stabler’s death sparked new discussions about his Hall of Fame candidacy. Nominated for the first time by the Seniors Committee, Stabler’s candidacy was watched closely by the Bay Area and his contemporaries. For his fans, and for the men who played with and against him, Stabler’s enshrinement came far too late.
“People have been pulling for him for years,” said Jim Plunkett, the man who succeeded Stabler in Oakland. “Sometimes it’s just sad that what he’s accomplished has to wait so long to be recognized.”
Stabler was the quarterback of John Madden’s Raiders teams of the 1970s, a four-time Pro Bowler and the 1974 MVP, before spending two seasons in Houston and finishing up in New Orleans, where he took over for Archie Manning. Known for his big, freewheeling personality, Stabler was a hero in Oakland, where he led the Raiders to a 50-11-1 record in a five-year span that began in 1973 and included a Super Bowl win in 1976.
“He pulled that Raider franchise from the brink of defeat so many times,” Plunkett said. “The two-minute drill — he was one of the best at it in the NFL. No question about it. He’s almost a mystical figure, in folklore, for the Oakland Raiders franchise.”
Stanfel holds a small place in Saints lore himself. An offensive line coach in New Orleans from 1976-80, Stanfel served as the Saints’ interim coach for the final four games of the 1980 season, coaching the team to its only win that year.
Faneca, a six-time All-Pro and a nine-time Pro Bowler who won a Super Bowl ring, will likely get into the Hall of Fame in the next couple of years, and Andersen, the all-time leader in points scored, is making steady progress as a finalist.
In the clutch
Saints quarterback Drew Brees finished 1-for-2 in the awards categories at the NFL Honors Show on Saturday night.
Brees, who led the league in passing with 4,870 yards, lost out on the fan-voted FedEx Air Player of the Year to Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer.
But he was named the Clutch Performer of the Year for his record-tying performance in a 52-49 victory over the New York Giants.
Brees completed 39-of-50 passes against New York for 504 yards and seven touchdowns, tying the NFL record for touchdown passes in a game.
And after the Giants took a 49-42 lead late in the game, Brees drove the Saints down for the game-tying touchdown and set up Kai Forbath’s field goal as time expired.
HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2016
Brett Favre, QB, 1991-2010 (Falcons, Packers, Jets, Vikings)
Kevin Greene, LB, 1985-99 (Rams, Steelers, Panthers, 49ers)
Marvin Harrison, WR, 1996-2008 (Colts)
Orlando Pace, OL, 1997-2009 (Rams, Bears)
Tony Dungy, coach, 1996-2008 (Buccaneers, Colts)
Ken Stabler, QB, 1970-84 (Raiders, Oilers, Saints)
Dick Stanfel, OL, 1952-58 (Lions, Redskins)
Eddie DeBartolo, owner, 1977-2000 (49ers)