Alan Faneca continues to spread awareness of epilepsy

Christian Petersen

Perhaps the best offensive guard in Steelers history, Alan Faneca played his Hall of Fame career with epilepsy, and while he's not battling defensive linemen anymore, he is still fighting to spread awareness of the condition.

Former Steelers guard Alan Faneca battled behemoth defensive tackles and ends in his 12-year career that will likely land him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But the opponent he faced since he was a teenager was far more difficult.

Faneca was diagnosed with epilepsy at age 15. He played with the condition straight through his final game, which came at the end of the 2010 season.

In recognition of that, and the years of work he's done spreading education on the condition, Faneca has been named the honorary chairman of the Epilepsy Foundation of Central and Western Pennsylvania's 25th Family Fun Run and Walk, which will be held Saturday in Pittsburgh.

The organization's goal, according to its web site, is to raise $250,000, and it is approximately half the way there.

The effort Faneca has put in spreading awareness and learning about the condition will, unfortunately, continue to serve him well, and not just in his own day-to-day functionality with the condition. His daughter, Anabelle, has since been diagnosed with the condition as well.

"If my playing football brings even a little more attention to people with epilepsy, that's such a big thing," he told American Academy of Neurology in 2006. "It's a great way to get the message out. I don't know if it's a major achievement. You know, sometimes I don't even think about it."

Faneca left Pittsburgh in 2008, signing a 5-year, $40 million contract with $21 million guaranteed with the New York Jets. The Steelers would go on to win Super Bowl XLIII that season, even without the player who could be regarded as the best offensive guard in franchise history.

The Jets rushed for over 2,000 yards in each of Faneca's two seasons with the team, the 2009 squad earning an appearance in the AFC Championship game that season, losing to the Indianapolis Colts.


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