After months of wandering aimlessly through the desert of no football, we’ve finally found a little oasis town called the NFL Preseason. Finally, we can throw out this canteen of nothing but Baseball stats and get back to the sport we truly love. Sort of. I mean, it’s technically football, right? It’s football the same way light beer is still beer. It may not satisfy, but it’s something and will do in a pinch.
Before we get to the official preseason games, however, we’ve got Hall of Fame weekend to enjoy. Since your brain has likely glazed over since football was last relevant, let’s take a moment to reorient ourselves with the lucky players the Hall inducted this weekend.
BRETT FAVRE – QB
You best know him as a superstar for the New York Jets and for being a dick pic pioneer. Okay but seriously, you know Brett Favre. Brett Favre transcended football. I don’t have to list his accomplishments. If you grew up in the 90’s and watched football, you loved Brett Favre (Maybe not if you were a Bears fan) because Brett Favre was the football player we all wished we could be. Just a big kid going out there and throwing the ball like it was backyard football.
Remember when Favre sent the infamous dick pic and people wondered if it would affect his legacy and make it hard (Pardon that pun) to get into the Hall of Fame? Yeah, no dick pic was preventing this from happening. Favre is a football hero and belongs here. He ended up bringing the house down on Saturday night with his show-stopping, main event induction speech. Favre forever.
Marvin Harrison – WR
You know him best as the guy on the receiving end of most of Peyton Manning pass attempts. A quiet, smaller than average WR who was quick and had great hands, Harrison holds the record for receptions in a single season (143). Marvin is seventh all time in career receiving yards (14,580), third all time in career receptions (1,102), fifth all time in career receiving touchdowns (128), and eighth all time in career reception yardage per game (76.7). He holds one championship ring (2006 Colts).
Orlando Pace – OL
If you aren’t a football nut, Orlando Pace might not mean much to you. If you are a football nut, you Orlando Pace was the third member of the amazing trio of offensive lineman of the decade (With Walter Jones and Jonathan Ogden, two other hall of famers). Pace was the cornerstone for the St. Louis Rams turn of the century dominance on offense, the unheralded hero of the Greatest Show on Turf. Without Pace, Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk may have never set the league on fire.
Kevin Greene – LB
Kevin Greene might not be a household name to current NFL fans, but slightly older fans will remember him as a pass rushing force from the mid 80’s to the mid 90’s. Greene was a sack master and currently sits very comfortably at #3 on the all time sack list with 160 career racks, behind only Bruce Smith and Reggie White. He is one of only 4 players to ever lead the league in sacks for a season twice. Not only does he have more sacks than any other linebacker in history, He’s the only linebacker in the top 10 all time list of career sacks.
And he really did have a truly spectacular head of hair, you know.
Tony Dungy – Coach
You know him best as that creepy guy on NBC’s broadcast that looks like a goblin and never blinks. Dungy is more than a weird football goblin however. He’s the first African American coach to ever win a Super Bowl (2006 Colts). Dungy holds the record for most consecutive playoff appearances by a head coach (10) and has 139 wins. While that’s only 22nd on the all time list, it’s an impressive number for someone who only coached for 12 years, and it’s also impressive for a modern era coach. Dungy is also well known for being the coach to finally bring the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to relevance. While Dungy did not invent the Cover-2 defense, he popularized it and it’s now known as the Tampa 2.
Ken Stabler – QB
Ken Stabler is a long-awaited arrival in the HoF. Stabler was an elite QB talent in the 70’s and remained the only big name QB from that era to not get enshrined yet. Sadly he finally did get selected 6 months after his death last July. The Snake (His nickname) is a Super Bowl Champion (1976 Raiders) and an MVP (1974). He’s a member of the all-70’s decade team and twice the passing TD leader. He played in a different era that helped give rise to the modern quarterback.
Dick Stanfel – OL
Dick Stanfel is a legacy Hall of Famer. Nobody around today likely remembers Stanfel, since his heyday was the 1950’s. He won two NFL Championships with the Detroit Lions (1952-1953), but his most important accomplishments may be as a coach. Stanfel coached mostly offensive lines for 35 years, including helping pave the way for Walter Payton and the 85 bears to win a championship. Sadly, Stanfel also missed his induction to the HoF by about six months, passing away in June of 2015.
Eddie DeBartolo Jr. – Contributor
If you know an older 49ers fan, chances are between cursing current owner Jed York, the infinite sadness at the state of their current team, and talking about how great Joe Montana was, they might have mentioned the owner of the 49ers during that magical 80’s stretch, Eddie DeBartolo Jr. Eddie changed the way teams were owned, as he was an active owner who viewed the 49ers as more than just a way to make money. He made the players into important figures and is generally considered one of the best owners football has ever had. He also presided over the most Super Bowl wins of any owner, with 5.
After watching these men put on their ugly gold jackets and thank everyone in existence in their speeches, it’s time to get to what most of us came here for: extremely underwhelming football.
The Hall of Fame Game is probably the most meaningless game in all of Football, revered only because it’s the first football “game” we get to see since early February. It’s essentially an extra preseason game where nobody tries all that hard to do anything because why bother? This year, thanks to some of the individuals getting inducted, we are treated to the Colts vs. the Packers. For about 1 quarter worth of playtime, you might see the starters. Andrew Luck will probably play two drives, Rodgers might play three. There will be checkdowns.
You’ll make it halfway into the second quarter before you remember this game is a joke and go back to binge-watching Bojack Horseman on Netflix. If you force yourself, you can witness future Packer super stud Brett Hundley take on former Packers super stud Scott Tolzien. Brace yourselves for watching Stephen Morris drop bombs to Tevaun Smith. Watch Marquise Williams throw electrifying checkdowns to Brandon Burks. If you actually know all those players by heart, congratulations, go outside and experience the sun for once.
Then on Monday we can all eagerly talk about how great it is to have football back.