On Tuesday morning former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive guard Alan Faneca announced that longtime teammate Hines Ward will be his presenter when he is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August. Faneca delivered the news via social media, posting a Facetime video which shows Ward’s emotional reaction to being asked.
“I was really thinking about a teammate from the beginning,” said Faneca in an exclusive interview with Teresa Varley of Steelers.com. “It’s so hard because so many people touch your life and I decided to go with Hines. We came in together, had such a bond, grew together as players and men.”
Indeed Faneca and Ward—a wide receiver—were members of the same 1998 draft class, with Faneca selected in the first round (No. 26 overall) and Ward added with a compensatory pick—the final selection of the third round (No. 92 overall).
“We went through so much together,” added Faneca. “Even before that, coming out of college, we were on a lot of All-America teams together. We made those trips and had that connection before we got to Pittsburgh….To be able to acknowledge a guy like Hines who has meant so much to my career … has just been great.
“It’s odd to say an offensive lineman and a wide receiver having that bond, but we had a kindred spirit. We pushed each other, leaned on each other, and I think he is the perfect fit for the guy to introduce me.
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Could This Help Hines Ward Get Elected to the Hall of Fame?
It’s also conceivable that putting the spotlight on Hines Ward could boost his prospects for getting elected. Ward has been a Hall of Fame semifinalist five times but has never been a finalist, though the recent Hall of Fame talk surrounding former New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman helped illustrate how much Ward accomplished during his illustrious 14-year career.
Furthermore, there is precedent for Steelers presenters getting elected to the Hall of Fame. Former Steelers wide receiver Lynn Swann was presented by John Stallworth in 2001, and Stallworth went on to become part of the Class of 2002. Also, Tony Dungy selected former Steelers safety Donnie Shell as his presenter in 2016, and Shell was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2020.
“Hines needs to get in and he will,” said Faneca. “It just needs to be sooner rather than later in my opinion. It’s part of the process. If it catches someone’s eye by him doing this, and they look at him in a different light, I am happy to be able to do that.”
Faneca (and 4 Other Steelers) Will be Enshrined in August
Alan Faneca—a six-time finalist—learned that he had been elected to the Hall of Fame in February, part of a 2021 class that also includes former Steelers scout/front office executive Bill Nunn (aka ‘The Dynasty Builder’), who will be posthumously enshrined as a Contributor.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2021 is scheduled to be enshrined on August 8, 2021, the day after the Class of 2020 (which includes former Steelers safeties Troy Polamalu and the aforementioned Shell), as well as former Steelers coach Bill Cowher, whose memoir, Heart and Steel, will be published in June.
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