It was fairly exciting news when we saw Alan Faneca show up with the Pittsburgh Steelers during OTAs, only to learn that he was actually serving as an intern assistant offensive line coach with Mike Munchak during the team’s spring drills through OTAs and minicamp.
Minicamp just ended a couple of days ago, and so had, presumably, Faneca’s internship. But yesterday, Bob Labriola wrote on the team’s website in an article that Faneca actually will be joining the Steelers as they head to Latrobe in several weeks to continue his internship—at least, that is the initial plan.
Labriola writes, “Faneca apparently hasn’t been scared off so far by the demands of a coaching career, because he now will extend his ‘internship’ with the team into the opening segment of training camp”. He went on to say that how long he spends in Latrobe will be determined by “how much he can stand”.
Faneca gave an interview earlier this week to Jim Wexell for Steel City Insider, where he more or less confirmed that his interest in potentially pursuing a future among the coaching ranks is genuine, and no mere passing phase. Serving an internship with the Steelers is an excellent way of dipping his toes in the water to get a feel for the coaching life before he decides to try to dive in.
He told Wexell, “I never thought I would be here when I retired”—that is, considering moving into the coaching ranks—“but circumstances go and it’s time to start doing something else with my life”. Perhaps coaching will become Faneca’s life’s work, as it has for another extremely talented former offensive lineman, and his current teacher, Munchak.
Faneca, drafted by the Steelers in the first round in 1998, played 13 seasons in the league, his first 10 in Pittsburgh, through Mike Tomlin’s first season as head coach in 2007. As one of the veterans, Faneca was not as thrilled with Tomlin’s hire as some others might have been, but his tune has changed on the man in the past decade.
He closed out his career with two years on the Jets and then another in Arizona before finally retiring following the 2011 season. the 2016 class was the first in which he was eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and he was one of 15 finalists in his first year, though he reportedly did not make the first cut down to 10.
While he waits for what I believe to be his inevitable enshrinement in Canton, he is kicking the tires on finding another way of keeping himself close to the game, as other former Steelers linemen, Craig Wolfley and Tunch Ilkin, have. They went into broadcasting, however, rather than coaching, though Ilkin has worked with the linemen before on technique.
Whatever insights Faneca might bring to the linemen in training camp, particularly once they put the pads on, will certainly be welcome by the coaching staff, and especially the players. Perhaps nobody stands to benefit more than David DeCastro, the man the team thought worthy enough to inherit the nine-time Pro Bowler’s number 66 jersey.