Now that we know that former Pittsburgh Steelers guard Alan Faneca wasn’t elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year all we can do as fans of the team is turn our attention quickly to what might happen a year from now. Next year will include Faneca’s fifth time attempting to get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and he’ll be joined on the list of Canton hopefuls by former Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, who will be ballot eligible for the first time.
With former Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed getting elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday in his first attempt, it’s hard to imagine Polamalu not being a slam dunk a year from now. After all, Polamalu won two Super Bowls during his career with the Steelers in addition to being voted an AP First-Team All-Pro four times, a Second-Team All-Pro twice, a Pro Bowler eight times and the NFL Defensive Player of the Year once in 2010.
While Reed’s 64 career interceptions are double Polamalu’s 32, that’s not surprising being as the former Ravens safety spent most of his time playing deep center field. Polamalu, as most of you are well aware of, played all over the field in the Steelers defense and was allowed to freelance quite a bit in the process. Polamalu’s career highlight reel speaks volumes and thus I’m not overly worried about his chances of getting elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame a year from now.
As for Faneca, despite him being disappointed a fourth consecutive time on Saturday, it should be viewed as a positive that he made it the cut of 10 this year and that now makes two years in a row he’s accomplished that feat. Additionally, now that center Kevin Mawae, a highly decorated player during his long NFL career that spanned 16 seasons in total, is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as of Saturday evening, that should leave Faneca having to do battle once again in 2020 with tackle Tony Boselli and guard Steve Hutchinson, both of whom also made the final cut to 10 this year.
Of Faneca, Boselli and Hutchinson, the former Steelers guard is the most-decorated and he had the longer career of the three. Faneca also won a Super Bowl during his career while the other two can’t say that. In summation, if the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee chooses to vote in another offensive lineman a year from now, Faneca should be considered the favorite to get the nod. That said, Faneca will likely only have a one-in-four shot at the Class of 2020, if you indeed consider that Polamalu is already a lock.
Wide receiver Reggie Wayne and linebacker Patrick Willis are two former NFL players, whom like Polamalu, will be on the ballot for the first time in 2020 so it will be interesting to see the push both of them get. Additionally, the other two players who failed to get in this year that also made the final cut of 10, safety Steve Atwater and running back Edgerrin James, will probably get strong consideration in 2020 just like Faneca, Boselli and Hutchinson all will.
You’ve probably already noticed by now that former Steelerts wide receiver Hines Ward hasn’t been talked about any in this post as a potential candidate to become a member of the 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame class and there’s a good reason for that.
First, Ward has yet to make it as a finalists in his first three years of eligibility. Second, even if Ward does make it to the final 15 next year, which right now looks like a stretch, it’s hard to imagine him making the cut to 10 and especially with Wayne becoming eligible in 2020 and wide receiver Isaac Bruce still trying to get into Canton. Ward trails Wayne and Bruce in career receptions and receiving yardage and thus he’s not likely to get voted in ahead of either of those two former wide receivers. Ward might not ever get voted in, to be totally honest.
As we sit here a year out from the announcement of the 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame class, I like the chances of both Polamalu and Faneca both getting enshrined in Canton during the summer of 2020. Additionally, hopefully next year’s Pro Football Hall of Fame class announcement is made right before the Steelers play in Super Bowl LIV in Miami, FL.