Alan Faneca has been a finalist for enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for four straight years. Steeler Nation has been waiting for Faneca to get the call and the gold jacket as the next member of a prestigious group of men to gladiate for the Black-and-Gold. While Faneca surely will join the likes of Mike Webster and Dermontii Dawson as great Steeler offensive linemen to get their bust displayed in Canton, he may not be the next Steeler to get in. He’s about to get leapfrogged and may soon be staring into a big head of hair.
2020 could be the year for Faneca, but even more...it could very well be a headlining year for Troy Polamalu. 2021 is expected to be a blockbuster year for first-ballot guys like Peyton Manning, Calvin Johnson and Charles Woodson. But Polamalu seems to be the biggest new name to be on the ballot next year. Consider No. 43’s career in the National Football League. Eight times he was voted to the Pro Bowl and six times elected All-Pro (4x First Team, 2x Second Team). Troy was 2010’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year and named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s, as well as the Steelers’ All-Time Team. Throw in two Super Bowl wins and you’ve got a legendary resumé.
Besides Polamalu, nobody else seems to have vaulted ahead of Faneca. His accomplishments are in some ways better than Polamalu, but being a lineman holds him back to a certain extent. Nine times he was voted to the Pro Bowl and eight times elected All-Pro (6x First Team, 2x Second Team). No. 66 was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s, as well as the Steelers’ All-Time Team. He won that lone Super Bowl (XL) in 2006 and his pulling-block freed Willie Parker for that record 75-yard score. As for his competition, Hutchinson has two-less Pro Bowls and one-less First Team All Pro, while Boselli was only elected to five Pro Bowls and named All-Pro only thrice. In the next three years, only Logan Mankins, Nick Mangold and maybe D’Brickashaw Ferguson look like potential candidates from the line.
In the next three years, Faneca has a great chance to get in and could go first or third among the competition. As far as other Steelers, Casey Hampton, Hines Ward, Bill Cowher and Thomas Everett are already eligible. Hines and a Cowher may have to wait a bit or get help from the Veterans Committee down the line. Brett Keisel, Ryan Clark are eligible in 2020, while Heath Miller and LaMarr Woodley could make a ballot in 2021. All of these other guys could be Steelers Hall of Honor Inductees, but Canton is probably unlikely.
Faneca fans, don’t worry...the top pick for the Steelers in 1998 is likely to get in the Hall of a Fame. He could possibly get the nod in 2020, but most likely Troy from Troy gets in first.