Before the pandemic the Pittsburgh Steelers were expecting to have three members of the organization enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer: Troy Polamalu, Bill Cowher and former safety Donnie Shell. As it stands now, Polamalu and Cowher are scheduled to be enshrined on August 7, 2021, with Shell getting a new enshrinement date as well.
That means another Steelers player—or two—has the potential to join them in 2021, with the most likely candidate being offensive guard Alan Faneca, who played for the Steelers from 1998-2007 before finishing his career with the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals.
Faneca has all the accolades one might expect from a serious Hall of Fame candidate—and more.
He was a six-time first-team All-Pro and a nine-time Pro Bowler. He was also named to the NFL’s all-decade team of the 2000s. Plus he was a model of consistency and reliability. He started all 16 games during the last nine years of his NFL career, and made at least 14 starts every season except his rookie year, when he started 12 games.
But the most remarkable thing about his NFL career is how infrequently he was penalized. While Faneca never made it through an entire season penalty-free, he had three separate seasons (2000, 2001, 2010) when he was penalized just one time, according to Pro Football Reference.
In fact, he was only called for holding eight times in his entire 206 game career (with the penalty accepted four times), and he once went four years between holding calls. Almost all of the 29 accepted penalties during the course of his career were false starts, though he was once called for an illegal block above the waist and once called for a personal foul, a face mask violation. That face mask call—during a game at Cleveland in November 2006—was the only time he was assessed a 15-yard penalty during his entire career.
All of the above is comparable to—if not superior to—the numbers compiled by guard Steve Hutchinson (Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings), who was elected to the Hall of Fame Class of 2020. Hutchinson was penalized only 19 times in 169 career games, but he was called for holding more often than Faneca, who actually played offensive tackle for the Steelers in 2003, which may have cost him another first-team All-Pro selection.
Faneca has been a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the past five years. Maybe the sixth time will be the charm.
Alan Faneca Weight Loss
If Faneca does get elected to the Hall of Fame, many Steelers fans are going to be shocked at his appearance. Faneca has lost a lot of weight since his playing days, enough to be no longer recognizable—and to have completed a marathon in New Orleans in 2014:
There's weight loss, and then there's what's Alan Faneca did. pic.twitter.com/JvH2QZibjU
— ☘️ Joe Mayo ☘️ (@GoldenDomer03) February 3, 2014
Alan Faneca’s Most Memorable Block
The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Faneca in the first-round of the 1998 NFL Draft (26th overall) out of Louisiana State University. He won a Super Bowl with the Steelers—that being Super Bowl XL, Jerome Bettis’ proverbial ‘last stop.’ His most famous block came in that game, as he was largely responsible for springing ‘Fast’ Willie Parker on a 75-yard touchdown run that gave the Steelers a double-digit lead.
Faneca closed out his NFL career playing two seasons with the New York Jets and one with the Arizona Cardinals.
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