Canton starts celebrating Pro Football Hall of Fame class of ’16

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CANTON, Ohio - Football fans are streaming into Canton as the Pro Football Hall of Fame prepares to enshrine its eight-member class of 2016.

The inductees are Youngstown, Ohio native and former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward Debartolo, quarterbacks Brett Favre and Kenny Stabler, wide receiver Marvin Harrison, coach Tony Dungee, offensive tackle Orlando Pace, linebacker Kevin Greene and guard Dick Stanfel.

Activities started on Thursday when the enshrinees will be recognized at a Gold Jacket Dinner.

They culminate over the weekend with the actual induction ceremony on Saturday and the Hall of Fame football game, both in the dramatically-refurbished former Fawcett Stadium.

Among those celebrating on Thursday were super fans, the 134 dues-paying members of an exclusive organization representing all 32 teams.

"It's hallowed ground, to us this is our palace, this is the crown jewel for any football fan," said Cindy Ricci of Baltimore, a Ravens fan who goes by the handle "Purple Dame."

"I love it. I love coming to Canton. It is what football is all about," said Karl Sides from St. Louis, a fan of the Rams.

2016 Hall of Fame festivities under way (Photo courtesy: FOX 8's Doug Herrmann)

2016 Hall of Fame festivities under way (Photo courtesy: FOX 8's Doug Herrmann)

"This is kind of when you get to see everybody every year and enjoy each others' company and have a good time. Now there's razzing, but it's all good natured, good sportsmanship and we try to be sure everybody has a good time," said Tom Dunn, a fan of the Atlanta Falcons.

"The first time you come here you don't know what to expect, but its overwhelming," said Glen Allen of Louisiana, a Saints super fan who goes by "First Down Glen."

Even the current enshrinees say among their peers there is a very special comradery.

"It's just a feel-good situation all the way around and I look forward to meeting the guys, seeing the guys every year," said former San Diego quarterback Dan Fouts, who was enshrined in 1993.

"The amazing thing is that here you have these guys that tried to kill you and now instead of stabbing you in the back, they are patting you on the back. It's kind of fun," Fouts said.

Fouts and other hall of famers were helping coach Canton-area children through obstacle courses and fitness drills on Thursday, happy to share some of their life experiences with the kids.

2016 Hall of Fame festivities under way (Photo courtesy: FOX 8's Doug Herrmann)

2016 Hall of Fame festivities under way (Photo courtesy: FOX 8's Doug Herrmann)

"It's just great to influence these guys and kind of talk to them about some of the values we learned playing football in general and how we apply those to life," said Dermontti Dawson, a former Pittsburgh Steeler who was inducted in 2012.

Hall of Fame activities include a parade and autograph sessions.