Alan Faneca Hall of Fame Profile: 2021 Inductee

Alan Faneca Hall of Fame Profile: 2021 Inductee

While touchdowns and playmakers are the ones who fill the stands on Sundays, the guys in the trenches are the backbone of the NFL. Few personified what it means to be a professional and true artist of this craft more than Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive lineman Alan Faneca, who is now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Alan Faneca paved the way for the Steelers’ rushing attack

When you play for the Pittsburgh Steelers, establishing the run through dominance up front ran through the veins almost as much as the Iron City beer did for the fans in Three Rivers Stadium. All the way from the four championships of the 1970s to the mid-2000s, this was the lifeblood of the Steelers — the DNA of the black and gold.

Alan Faneca is the perfect representation of this identity. For every Jerome Bettis bruising run, Faneca plowed the way forward. 

Alan Faneca was the 26th overall selection in the 1998 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Injuries to other linemen led him to see the field early on in his rookie season, leading to 12 starts. He received the Joe Green Award as the team’s top rookie. 

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During his 10-year career with the Steelers, Alan Faneca made 153 starts. He helped running backs Jerome Bettis, Duce Staley, and Willie Parker set individual and team rushing records. Together, they propelled the Steelers to Super Bowl XL in Detroit.

Pittsburgh defeated the Seattle Seahawks 21-10, where Jerome “The Bus” Bettis made his final stop back in his hometown. His crucial pull-block helped spring Parker for a 75-yard touchdown run that is currently the longest run in Super Bowl history. That block highlighted how quick Faneca was coming out of the stance. For Faneca, this was just another day in the office as that play was a staple of the Steelers’ offense.

He ended his career after playing two seasons with the New York Jets and one for the Arizona Cardinals in 2010.

Alan Faneca’s enshrinement in the Hall of Fame is long overdue

It’s time for Alan Faneca to get his gold jacket alongside the other Hall of Famers. Perhaps it is a bit of “Steelers fatigue,” or maybe that is just the opinion of one 20-something that wants to run through a brick wall anytime “Renegade” plays. What cannot be ignored are the accolades Faneca received in his 13-year career.

Faneca missed just two games over his 13-year career. One due to injury and one when head coach Bill Cowher rested his starters when Pittsburgh’s playoff seeding was clinched.

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He was selected to nine straight Pro Bowls, named first-team All-Pro six times, and a two-time second-team All-Pro. During his six-year stretch of Pro Bowl appearances, he was called for only four holding calls. Faneca was also named to the All-Decade team of the 2000s and won Super Bowl XL with the Steelers. In 2007, Faneca was voted to the Steelers’ 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.

There are few stats for an offensive lineman, which makes it difficult to gauge

There are no touchdowns. No 100-yard rushing games or pick-sixes. No gaudy stats to speak of when playing offensive line. More times than not, the better a player is doing, the less you hear about them. 

What speaks volumes are the words of players who had to go to battle against them. One of the greatest linebackers ever, and someone who faced Faneca at least two times a season, Ray Lewis, even believes Alan Faneca is deserving of a nomination

“He was one of the guards that he controlled the tempo of the front seven. He was the leader in that group…You’re telling your defensive lineman, don’t let him climb up to me. He was so dominant in how he could combo block. When you can influence that much of the defensive line, you’re going to have problems on the backend.” 

Lewis would go on to say, “I think a Hall of Famer is somebody truly that has the career that inspires others to be like them, to be great. Every time he stepped on the field, he was great.”

History says that Alan Faneca should be in the Hall of Fame

Of the 54 players who have been selected to six or more All-Pro teams, all but four are in the Hall of Hame. Faneca was one of those, with Peyton Manning another. 

On Pro Football Reference, in their Pro Football Hall of Fame Monitor, which compares the historical career of players against players in the Hall of Fame, Alan Faneca is the fourth-ranked guard of all-time. Of the top 13 guards listed, Faneca is the only one still without their gold jacket. That will change this coming summer when he’s enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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Tommy Garrett is a writer for Pro Football Network covering the NFL and fantasy football. You can read more of his work here and follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.