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Alan Faneca, next Pittsburgh Steeler in the Hall of Fame? Jerome Bettis thinks so

Who will be the next Pittsburgh Steeler in the Hall of Fame? Jerome Bettis says Alan Faneca.

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During his tearful 2010 Hall of Fame speech, Emmitt Smith made sure to thank his former Cowboys teammate and lead blocker Daryl Johnston saying, tearfully, "Without you, without you, I know today would not have been possible. I love you from the bottom of my heart."

So, it is not entirely surprising that former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis thinks his former teammate, guard Alan Faneca should be in the Hall of Fame alongside of him. In a recent conference call Bettis said, per Pro Football Talk, "He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame."

Faneca played 10 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, starting in the Pittsburgh Steelers 2006 Super Bowl victory over the Seattle Seahawks and ten other post-season games. The perennial  Pro-Bowler was a key factor in Bettis' success, contributing to his teammate's four 1,000-yard seasons. Faneca also helped Willie Parker rush for over 1,000 yards in three separate seasons. Ben Roethlisberger's strong performance in 2007 is due, in part, to Faneca's prowess at guard.

While Faneca's assessment of a young Ben Roethisberger was off-base-- he said in 2004 after Big Ben was drafted, "Exciting? No, it's not exciting. Do you want to go to work with some little young kid who's just out of college?"-- he would later change his tune on Roethlisberger as a quarterback.

Will Faneca make the Hall of Fame? Probably not any time soon, especially with Brett Favre eligible for enshrinement next year and Marvin Harrison, Tony Dungy, and Jimmy Johnson still waiting their turns (among others).  Meanwhile, the Steelers  legendary defensive end L.C. Greenwood was a finalist twice in the Hall of Fame voting, but was never enshrined in Canton. Two years before Greenwood passed away in 2013, Joe Greene said, "I don't know what my career would have been without him. He should absolutely be in the Hall of Fame. Bottom line, he is being cheated."

While Faneca waits to see if he will see his day come, he has become an advocate for epilepsy and an avid marathoner, a hobby made easier by his 100-pound weight loss since his retirement.