Another year, another disappointment is the news of the day for former Pittsburgh Steelers guard Alan Faneca, who was a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame once again, but was not named as this year’s class of enshrinees. The perennial Pro Bowler remains in a holding pattern as he waits for the day that he can put on his gold jacket.
But there was progress. Having previously been a finalist in 2016 and 2017, this year’s round of voting is the first time that Faneca advanced to the round of 10, from which is selected the final list of five modern candidates who will enter Canton that year.
The five modern candidates that were selected are wide receivers Randy Moss and Terrell Owens, linebackers Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher, and safety Brian Dawkins. Certainly, all five of those players are more than deserving of joining the ranks of the Hall of Fame for their performances on the field.
So, too, is Faneca, who will surely reach that level someday, and his advancement to the top 10 does bode well for the possibility that he will advance as soon as in 2019. Reportedly, though, he was one of four offensive linemen who advanced to the round of 10, with none of them ultimately making it.
The other three offensive linemen that were finalists for the Hall of Fame this year were center Kevin Mawae, guard Steve Hutchinson, and tackle Tony Boselli. Boselli has been eligible for the Hall of Fame for over a decade, having retired following the 2000 season. Mawae has been eligible for four years, while Hutchinson was in his first year of eligibility.
None of them have had a decorated career quite like Faneca’s, however, the 26th-overall pick by the Steelers in the 1998 NFL Draft, he spent a decade in Pittsburgh before playing three more years with the New York Jets and the Arizona Cardinals.
During those 13 seasons, he was named to the Pro Bowl nine times, in nine consecutive years, from 2001 to 2009. He was named a first-team All-Pro six times, and second-team All-Pro twice for a total of eight All-Pro selections. He was also a Super Bowl winner and has the distinction of owning the block that sprung the longest run in Super Bowl history.
Mawae was similarly decorated, earning eight trips to the Pro Bowl as well as eight selections to the All-Pro team, including seven as the first-team center, during a lengthy career that spanned from 1994 through 2009.
Hutchinson played from 2001 through 2012 and was voted to the Pro Bowl seven times while receiving five selections to the first-team All-Pro team, and two additional selections to the second team. Boselli only played from 1995 to 2002, but was a five-time Pro Bowler and named first-team All-Pro three times.
With four linemen in the top 10, there is a fair chance that more than one will be enshrined in 2019, though first-time eligibles including Ed Reed, Champ Bailey, and Tony Gonzalez will complicate matters.