Aside from Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis, there’s no one among the 27 candidates for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018 more qualified for induction than former guard Alan Faneca.
He was a nine-time Pro Bowler, an eight-time All-Pro, a Super Bowl champion and a first-team all-decade choice. Yet while the former Steelers’ star and member of the franchise’s 75th anniversary team has been a finalist in his first two years of eligibility, he has yet to make the first cut from 15 to 10.
Considering his resume, that’s puzzling. So we asked Faneca, who later played for the Jets and Cardinals in his career, to make his Hall-of-Fame case for us … and the rest of the board of selectors … on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast.
“I think it’s hard to find stats for offensive linemen,” he said, “(but) especially for my time in Pittsburgh, if there was a way to find the percentage of times the ball went behind me, minus passing plays … the amount of offense that went through me would be staggering compared to every other offensive lineman.
“I don’t know how to quantify it or compare it. But I think it would be an astronomical stat to find out how many screens … how many pulling plays … that went to the right, but I pulled and was still leading the play; how many runs went right behind me.
“I think it would be a very large number because the ten years I was in Pittsburgh … the offense, the run game, and all of our pulling game virtually went through me. If I had a way to get that stat or quantify it that would be what I would give.”
Faneca is part of an illustrious group of offensive linemen up for the Class of 2018 that includes tackles Tony Boselli and Joe Jacoby, guard Steve Hutchinson and center Kevin Mawae. Like Faneca, all are all-decade performers — with Hutchinson joining Faneca as a first-team all-decade choice for the 2000s. This is Hutchinson’s first year of eligibility, so he hasn’t waited yet.
But Faneca has, and, as Boselli described the week before on the Talk of Fame Network, the wait on the afternoon of the voting — when all candidates are in their hotel rooms at the site of the Super Bowl — is, as Faneca described it, “nerve wracking,” and includes family and friends.
“My first year we’re back in the room,” he said, “it’s the five of us … I’ve got three kids, me and (wife Julie) … and we’re in there. And Julie and I are getting ready for the NFL Honors Show, and the kids are just literally bouncing off the walls. They’re trapped in the room, and they need to be running around town. And they’re literally bouncing off the walls, while we’re trying to get ready for the show.
“It’s a stressful moment, and, all of sudden, we get ‘The Knock.’ We got phone calls .. we didn’t get ‘The Knock’ … we got phone calls from people to wait longer; (telling us) that it could be longer.
“That year, everybody got a knock (on their hotel room door) no matter what, and ‘The Knock” came. Julie wasn’t ready. She was in the midst of getting dressed, and I was like, ‘Can I open the door or not? Are you ready for what’s about to happen on the other side of the door?’ Because we had seen the footage of guys running in with the cameras, and she was like, ‘Just do it.’ And, of course, it was not the knock we wanted, but it’s definitely an antsy moment the whole family gets to enjoy … whereas when I was playing it was just me on the field.”