(Photos courtesy of the St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Talk of Fame Network
There are 303 men in the Pro Football Hall of Fame but 53 little fraternities in Canton – the 53 classes of Hall of Famers.
John Elway is a fraternity brother of Barry Sanders. Both were inducted in the Class of 2004. Jerry Rice is a fraternity brother of Emmitt Smith. Both were inducted in the Class of 2010. Joe Namath and Roger Staubach are fraternity brothers in the Class of 1985 as are Forrest Gregg and Bart Starr in the Class of 1977.
Another fraternity formed this month with the election of Eddie DeBartolo Jr., Tony Dungy, Brett Favre, Kevin Greene, Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace, Ken Stabler and Dick Stanfel to the Class of 2016. Like the 52 classes before them, the Class of 2016 is already forming a bond leading up to the induction in August.
“The wives have all bonded,” Dungy said. “We feel like a family already. Marvin Harrison has already named Kevin Greene the captain of our class.”
Dungy became the first coach inducted since Bill Parcells in 2013. DeBartolo was a nominee in the contributor category and became the first owner enshrined since Ralph Wilson in 2009. Stabler and Stanfel were the two senior nominees and both were elected posthumously. Favre became the 75th player elected on the first ballot, Pace was elected in his second-year of eligibility, Harrison his third and Greene his 12th.
The bond with his seven classmates was forming for Dungy long before Canton came calling.
“It’s weird because I have some kind of tie in with every guy in the class,” Dungy said. “I played a year for Eddie DeBartolo, I played 21 games against Brett Favre and we played against Kevin Greene so often. Marvin and I going in together.
“We played against Pace in that 1999 NFC championship game in 1999. I remember being introduced to him at Terry Glenn’s pro day. The coaches at Ohio State told me, `This is the best player we’ve got. He’s going to be one of the best players ever to come out of Ohio State.’ Dick Stanfel…me being from (Jackson) Michigan, being a Lions fan growing up and then later on in life coaching against him. I was able to tell Ken Stabler's grandson about my rookie year in 1977 playing against Ken. It was incredible the tie ins. We feel like a family already.”