Brett Favre leads Pro Football Hall of Fame class

Quarterback Brett Favre was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot.

Story highlights

  • Quarterback Brett Favre leads the eight-man Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2016
  • The Hall of Fame announcement was made at the NFL Honors awards presentation in San Francisco
  • Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton wins the 2015 NFL Most Valuable Player award

San Francisco (CNN)If anyone leads the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2016, it has to be quarterback Brett Favre. It took all of nine seconds to elect him.

"Is that good?" the longtime Green Bay Packers legend asked when he found out the news.
Yes, it is.
Favre, who led the Packers to a championship in Super Bowl XXXI and won three consecutive NFL Most Valuable Player awards in his NFL career, was elected his first time on the ballot.
The class, which was announced Saturday at the NFL Honors awards presentation at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, is full of greats: owner Edward DeBartolo Jr., coach Tony Dungy, Favre, linebacker/defensive end Kevin Greene, wide receiver Marvin Harrison, tackle Orlando Pace, the late quarterback Ken Stabler and the late guard Dick Stanfel.
Favre finished his pro career with 71,838 passing yards, 6,300 completions, 10,169 attempts, 508 passing touchdowns and 298 consecutive games started, all of which were NFL records as of his retirement in 2010. His 18 consecutive seasons with 3,000 or more yards passing and 23 games with four or more touchdown passes also were NFL bests when he retired.
"I was already honored to have an opportunity to play in the National Football League," Favre said. "Because as a kid, all I ever dreamed of was to play pro football, to be Roger Staubach or to be Archie Manning. That's what I dreamed of."
The other quarterback in the class, Stabler, led the Oakland Raiders to Super Bowl glory in 1977. There was also some mixed emotion in the news.
He died in July from cancer, but it was announced on Wednesday by researchers at Boston University that Stabler suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. CTE is a progressive degenerative brain disease that can manifest in depression, disorientation and aggression. Scientists believe repeated head trauma causes CTE. It's only diagnosable post-mortem.
Stabler's grandsons, Justin and Jack Moyes, represented the quarterback at the NFL Honors night. Justin Moyes said the family "could see it in his everyday life that something was wrong."
"It's just kind of sad what the effects that the players go through and, you know, it is damaging," Justin Moyes said.
Several former NFL players, including some prominent members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, have been found to have had CTE.
That includes Hall of Fame class of 2015 member Junior Seau, who was 43 when he killed himself in May 2012 with a gunshot wound to the chest.
Mike Webster, the Pittsburgh Steelers center who was profiled in the movie "Concussion," was the first former NFL player to be diagnosed with CTE. He died from a heart attack at age 50.
Possibly the most well-known person to have had CTE was Hall of Famer and revered sportscaster Frank Gifford; he died from natural causes in August at age 84.
In October, Boston University and Department of Veterans Affairs researchers said 87 out of 91 former NFL players who donated their brains to science after death tested positive for CTE.
Stabler, nicknamed "The Snake," led the Raiders to a 32-14 victory against the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI on January 9, 1977. He is the Raiders' all-time leading passer, was a four-time Pro Bowler and was named the 1974 NFL MVP.
He died in July from colon cancer at age 69. Before his death, Stabler requested his brain be removed during an autopsy and taken to researchers in Massachusetts.
Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist and expert in neurodegenerative disease at Boston University School of Medicine, was part of the team that analyzed Stabler's brain. She said Stabler wanted it studied because he was having difficulty with impulse control in his 50s and developed memory problems and suffered from headaches in his 60s.
McKee noted that studying Stabler's brain was informative because some assume that quarterbacks receive fewer hits, thus putting them at a lesser risk.
"It shows that even playing quarterback -- and if you play a number of years -- that you're at risk for developing this disease," McKee said.
The stars came out for NFL Honors night, a black-tie gala the day before the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos face off in the Super Bowl.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who will be playing in his first Super Bowl on Sunday, was named the 2015 NFL MVP. It's the first time he has won the honor. Newton also won offensive player of the year. He did not attend the ceremony. His family accepted the hardware on his behalf.
If he wins Super Bowl 50, Newton will have the "grand slam" of NFL and college football hardware: the Heisman, a national championship, an NFL MVP award and a Super Bowl ring. The only other player to accomplish all those feats was Marcus Allen, who played for the University of Southern California and the Los Angeles Raiders.
Other award winners from Saturday include Ron Rivera of the Panthers for coach of the year; Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt for defensive player of the year; St. Louis (and now Los Angeles) Rams running back Todd Gurley for offensive rookie of the year; Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters for defensive rookie of the year; Chiefs safety Eric Berry for comeback player of the year; and San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin for the Walter Payton Man of the Year.
The NFL Honors show was televised on CBS and was hosted by Conan O'Brien. Super Bowl 50 is Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET (3:30pm local time) at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California.