Brett Favre is one step away from entering the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The quarterback who left the NFL after the 2010 season as the leader in most career passing categories after finishing his career with the Minnesota Vikings, is among three first-time eligibles to make the list of 15 finalists. Receiver Terrell Owens and guard Alan Faneca, also in their initial year of eligibility, made the cut.
The class of 2016 will be decided on Feb. 6, the day before the Super Bowl, with inductions scheduled for August.
Also making the cut to 15 are Morten Andersen, Steve Atwater, Don Coryell, Terrell Davis, Tony Dungy, Kevin Greene, Marvin Harrison, Joe Jacoby, Edgerrin James, John Lynch, Orlando Pace and Kurt Warner.
Two senior finalists — players whose careers ended more than 25 years ago — were announced last August: Ken Stabler and Dick Stanfel.
A contributor finalist announced in September was Edward DeBartolo Jr., owner of the San Francisco 49ers from 1977-2000.
To be elected, a finalist must receive a minimum of 80 percent of the votes cast by the selection panel. A maximum of eight inductees are allowed per year.
The ultimate gun-slinging quarterback, Favre led the Packers to the 1996 NFL championship, the Vikings to the 2009 NFC Championship game and was a three-time league MVP. He retired as the NFL’s leading passer with 6,300 completions, 10,169 attempts, 71,838 yards and 508 touchdowns.
Owens played for five teams in his 16 pro seasons, making the Super Bowl with the 2004 Eagles. He ranks second in yards receiving (15,934), third in touchdown receptions (153) and set a then-record for catches in a single game with 20 against the Bears in 2000.
Faneca was one of the NFL’s best blockers for 13 seasons and 206 games, making the All-Decade Team of the 2000s. A six-time All-Pro, he anchored the offensive lines of the Steelers, Jets and Cardinals, winning one Super Bowl.
Andersen is the career scoring leader with 2,544 points in 25 seasons for five teams. He also is tops in field goals (565), and games played (382), and his 40 field goals of 50-plus yards were the most in NFL history at his retirement in 2004. He was voted to two All-Decade Teams (1980s and 1990s).
Among the other finalists, Dungy rebuilt the moribund Tampa Bay franchise after spending time as the Vikings’ defensive coordinator, then won the 2007 Super Bowl with Indianapolis, the first black coach to win the NFL championship. The other coaching finalists is Coryell, whose offense (Air Coryell) was the most potent of its day. Considered an innovator in the passing game, Coryell was 111-83-1 with the Cardinals and Chargers in 14 seasons.
Harrison starred for Dungy with the Colts and had 1,102 receptions for 14,580 yards and 128 touchdowns, making the All-Decade Team of the 2000s. He had 59 100-yard games.
James was a teammate of Harrison’s in Indianapolis, and also played for Arizona and Seattle. The 1999 Offensive Rookie of the Year, he was a seven-time 1,000-yard rusher and won two rushing crowns.
Davis is one of seven players to gain 2,000 yards in a season, rushing for 2,008 in 1998. He scored 22 touchdowns on the ground that year and was the league’s MVP. Davis won two Super Bowls with Denver.
Atwater was another Broncos standout, a hard-hitting safety for 10 seasons, also winning NFL titles in 1997 and 1998. And another safety among the finalists, Lynch played for the Broncos following an 11-season stint in Tampa Bay, where he won one Super Bowl. Lynch was an integral part of the Bucs’ shutdown Tampa-2 defense.
Jacoby, one of the stalwarts of the Hogs, Washington’s outstanding offensive line that helped win three Super Bowls, made the 1980s All-Decade Team at tackle. Pace was a dominant tackle for the Rams for 10 seasons, winning one Super Bowl. He was the top selection in the 1997 draft and made five All-Pro teams.
Pace blocked for Warner when the quarterback, who had been stocking grocery shelves while trying to get an NFL job, led the Rams to the 1999 championship. Warner won two league MVP awards, and also guided Arizona to its only Super Bowl appearance after the 2008 season.
Greene was one of the NFL’s top sackmasters from 1985-97 for four teams. He finished his career with 160 sacks, third on the career list when he retired, and made the 1990s All-Decade Team.