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The Class of 2016 will be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame during a spectacular ceremony held in Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 6, 7 p.m. The class includes Ed Debartolo Jr., Tony Dungy, Kevin Greene, Brett Favre, Marvin Harrison, Ken Stabler, Orlando Pace and Dick Stanfel.
This is the final installment in a series highlighting the Class of 2016.
The Detroit Lions used their second-round pick in the 1951 NFL Draft on University of San Francisco guard Dick Stanfel. The move proved to be a wise one as Stanfel became the anchor of a dominant Lions team of that era.
Stanfel suffered a knee injury while preparing to play in the College All-Star game before joining the Lions. The injury sidelined him for the entire 1951 season. He took the field the following year and quickly established himself as one of the team leaders. The Lions advanced to the NFL championship game in the first three seasons in which Stanfel played. Detroit won back-to-back world titles in 1952 and 1953.
Despite playing on the offensive line where a player did not receive much fanfare, Stanfel's teammates clearly recognized his importance to the club. He was lauded with the team's Most Valuable Player honor for the Lions' 1953 championship season as voted on by the players. It was an award rarely bestowed to an offensive lineman.
After four seasons in Detroit, he was traded to the Washington Redskins as part of a blockbuster four-team deal. In Washington, he was reunited with his college coach and mentor Joe Kuharich who was the Redskins head coach at the time. Stanfel played three seasons in Washington and continued to be regarded among the NFL's elite players. Then, while performing at the top of his game, Stanfel retired at age 31 to pursue a coaching career. He followed Kuharich to Notre Dame where he accepted a job as an assistant coach before embarking on lengthy coaching career in the NFL.
Stanfel earned first-team All-Pro honors in five of his seven seasons including all three years he played for the Redskins. In addition, Stanfel was voted to four Pro Bowls during his career. His impact as a player was noted during the 1954 season when he was voted to the Pro Bowl despite the fact that he missed considerable playing time due to injury.
Stanfel was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1950s.