Former Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro offensive guard Alan Faneca knows a little bit about what it’s like to be discounted. After all, he played a position that historically hasn’t been seen as important as, say, offensive tackle. So it was especially gratifying for him to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame (Class of 2021).
“It is a little vindication playing a position that is maybe [over]looked a little bit, especially in the Hall of Fame process,” said Faneca, while meeting with the media on Thursday. “When I came into the NFL the philosophy was that you could plug anybody in at guard. The tackle that doesn’t make it out at tackle? We’ll just slide him in and he’ll play guard. I think Hutch [Hall of Famer Steve Hutchinson] and I kinda helped redefine it a little bit to where it is now.”
Alan Faneca on Hines Ward: ‘He Will Get to Canton’
When Faneca is formally enshrined in the Hall of Fame on Sun. Aug. 8, he will become the third player from the Steelers’ Super Bowl XL team to go into the Hall, following in the footsteps of running back Jerome Bettis (Class of 2015) and safety Troy Polamalu, who will be enshrined a day earlier.
But he believes that there is at least one more now-retired player from that team who deserves to be elected, wide receiver Hines Ward, who like Faneca, was drafted by the Steelers in 1998.
In fact, Faneca has chosen Ward to be his presenter, perhaps in an effort to boost Ward’s chances for election.
“He is a Hall of Famer, it’s just a matter of when he gets in,” said Faneca on Thursday, before going on to explain why he selected Ward to introduce him.
“We came in together, out of college together, and grew up in the Steelers organization together,” he began. “We just had a really good bond and that’s kinda where it ended up. I just wanted someone that represented me and had kind of the same mentality. Hines and I have a lot of the same characteristics and mentalities that got us where we are.”
What Are Hines Ward’s Chances?
While Faneca was a six-time finalist before he finally got elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Hines Ward has never made it to the final round of voting. Instead, his candidacy has stalled at the semifinal round for five years in a row, perhaps indicating that he may be left on the outside looking in.
On the other hand, the recent retirement of former New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman helped shine a light on Ward’s accomplishments and illustrated how favorably he compares to Edelman.
The added attention can only help Ward, who finished his career with 1,000 receptions for 12,083 yards and 85 touchdowns. He also was the MVP of Super Bowl XL and has a reputation as being one of the best blockers ever to play his position, as the following career highlight reel illustrates:
Faneca came to the Steelers as the team’s first-round pick in the 1998 NFL Draft, selected No. 26 overall out of LSU. Ward was drafted in the third round (No. 92 overall) out of Georgia.
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