I used to get excited seeing the No. 66. Seeing it on a broad-chested, rattlesnake-mean player moving at the speed of a semi-truck in fourth gear and climbing made me think "run the ball behind Big Nasty for the rest of the bleeping game."
And the Steelers did quite often. No. 66 represents ground-and-pound Steelers football.
It's not quite like No. 21 for the Pirates - never to be worn again - but the Steelers aren't exactly like most teams. They don't retire numbers so much as they just stop giving them out.
Not everyone should wear certain numbers on the Steelers. But some still should.
There aren't official measurements behind a number not being given out again. Ernie Stautner's No. 70 will never again be worn but that was retired in a different era, and it's the only number that will officially never be worn again.
Players who had success on the same level as, if not more than, Stautner, like Terry Bradshaw (No. 12), Franco Harris (No. 32), Jack Lambert (No. 58), Mike Webster (No. 52) and Joe Greene (No. 75), don't have their numbers retired, but are not given out, either.
It didn't seem No. 66 would have been used in the regular rotation, either.
It was worn by without question the best guard in team history. In fact, Faneca, along with Dermontti Dawson and Webster, is among the best offensive linemen in team history. Dawson's No. 63 isn't in circulation either. Only the contract dispute that eventually landed Faneca out of town could be presented as a viable reason why No. 66 would be in consideration to be given out again.
That is, until Faneca 2.0 - rookie OG David DeCastro asked for it.
The Steelers initially gave him No. 61, but DeCastro asked for 66. He wore No. 52 in college, Webster's number, and if he couldn't wear his, he'd go for the next best thing.
It's not likely we'd hear "I chose it because I want to be the next great guard here," but it's impossible not to make that comparison. You have to love that kind of mentality. It's not disrespect to Faneca - a nine-time Pro Bowl player and certain Hall of Fame member (eligible in 2014). It's a tribute. DeCastro wants to be the next great guard in Pittsburgh.
He doesn't want to be Faneca, he wants to show everyone how high he sets his expectations.