The 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers dominated on the field, and subsequently dominated the Pro Football Hall of Fame after their playing days were over. While many suggest the Hall of Fame has a personal vendetta against Pittsburgh and having “too many Steelers” enshrined, two former players for the black and gold received good news on Wednesday night.
Hines Ward and Alan Faneca both were listed as semifinalists for the 2017 enshrinement class. Ward, in his first year of eligibility, was one of 26 players, coaches and front office personnel to receive the semifinalist tag.
There are still more hoops to jump through, and Faneca knows this first hand. Faneca was a semifinalist in his first year of eligibility last year, but wasn’t selected into the Hall in his first year.
That isn’t a cut on Faneca, not many players are considered first ballot Hall of Famers, but the fact Ward and Faneca both were semifinalists bodes well for their eventual enshrinement. Several former Steelers have had to take a wait-and-see approach to the Hall of Fame, most recently Jerome Bettis. Bettis, despite having great numbers and a Super Bowl ring on his resume, had to wait several years before finally being selected for enshrinement.
For Ward, his resume certainly seems worthy of the prestigious honor, but there is an ongoing discussion whether he will find his way to the greatest football team ever assembled. Looking at his resume, the question should turn from “will he get in” to “when will he get in”.
Ward played his entire career with the Steelers and finished with 1,000 catches, 12,083 yards and 86 touchdowns. Ward was a five-time Pro Bowler, a two-time Super Bowl champion and Super Bowl XL MVP.
If you ask me, that is a Hall of Fame player, and the fact he has moved through the process in his first year certainly shows hope that fans will one day see No. 86 smiling on the podium donning a gold jacket.
Other former Steelers weren’t as lucky as Ward and Faneca, and those would be Joey Porter, Levon Kirkland, Gary Anderson and coach Bill Cowher. The Hall of Fame will announce their 15 finalists in early January.