On Tuesday evening the Pittsburgh Steelers announced that two former members of the organization are among the finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2021. Offensive guard Alan Faneca is one of the 15 Modern-Era Finalists, while the late Bill Nunn is a Contributor Finalist.
Faneca, who was the team’s first-round draft choice in 1998 (LSU), is a finalist for the sixth time. He played ten seasons for the Steelers before spending two years with the New York Jets and one year with the Arizona Cardinals.
In those 13 seasons he was selected to nine Pro Bowls and was a six-time All-Pro selection. He was also named to Pittsburgh’s All-Time Team in 2007 and the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2000s. He is already a member of the Steelers Hall of Honor (inducted in 2018) and won Super Bowl XL with the Steelers.
Most remarkable, perhaps, is how infrequently Faneca was penalized during the course of his career. He had three separate seasons when he was penalized just one time, and once went four years between holding calls.
Bill Nunn: ‘The Dynasty Builder’
As for Bill Nunn, he served in multiple roles in the Steelers scouting department beginning in 1967 (part-time), and then full-time from 1969-2014.
“I am beyond thrilled to hear Bill Nunn has been selected a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a contributor,” said Steelers President Art Rooney II.
“Bill’s contributions to the Steelers were extraordinary over the 46 years he was part of the organization. He was a special person who was a close friend and mentor before his passing in 2014. His lessons and stories are still evident in our everyday work,” added Rooney.
Nunn, a member of the Inaugural Class of the Black College Football Hall of Fame, helped the team find talent from Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Those players included: defensive end L.C. Greenwood (Arkansas Pine Bluff, 1969), Mel Blount (Southern University, 1970), wide receiver Frank Lewis (Grambling State, 1971), defensive tackle Ernie Holmes (Texas Southern, 1971), defensive end Dwight White (Texas A&M-Commerce, 1971), Ernie Holmes (Texas Southern, 1971), quarterback Joe Gilliam (Tennessee State, 1972), wide receiver John Stallworth (Alabama A&M, 1974) and Donnie Shell (South Carolina State, 1974).
In September, ESPN aired a special segment on Nunn titled ‘The Dynasty Builder,’ which illustrates his impact on the organization. Fittingly, the Steelers have honored Nunn by putting his name on their draft room at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
Hines Ward Failed to Make the Final Round
On the downside, longtime Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward (1998-2011) failed to make the jump from the semifinal round of 25 to the final round. Ward’s candidacy appears to be hampered by the fact that he played with below-average quarterbacks until Ben Roethlisberger was drafted in 2004. Also, he was voted to just four Pro Bowls.
The Hall of Fame selection committee will meet virtually on January 19th to vote for the Class of 2021, a committee that now includes former Steelers defensive back-turned coach Tony Dungy.
The committee can elect up to five Modern-Era Players. Three others, including Nunn, Tom Flores, and Drew Pearson, are finalists in the Contributor, Coach and Senior categories. Voting on each of the three will be held individually.
The Class of 2021 will be introduced during the NFL Honors show the night before Super Bowl LV. The Class of 2021 will be enshrined in August along with the Class of 2020, which has had its induction ceremony delayed due to COVID-19.
The Class of 2020 includes former Steelers Troy Polamalu and Donnie Shell and former head coach Bill Cowher.
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