We’re still weeks away before we know who is going to be part of the 2020 Class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. From our perspective, we do know two things: that there will be 20 of them, and that up to three of them could be members of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Of the 20, 10 will be made up of a pool of 20 finalists selected by the Senior Committee, and among those 20 finalists is Steelers safety Donnie Shell. He has solid odds of making it, since half of the finalists among the senior candidates will, and his resume speaks for itself—or so you’d think, though in such case he should already be in.
Two Steelers are also among the 15 finalists for what will consist of the standard five modern candidates. And to get both of them in the class will be much tougher. While the majority will consider Troy Polamalu a lock, Alan Faneca has a tougher road to hoe.
The ‘good’ news is that between now and the time the voting takes place, we’ll be getting lots of opinions about who will get in, who should get in, who might get in, and who shouldn’t get in, as well as who should have been a finalist instead of somebody else.
Case in point, we have a recent article put up by Adam Rank taking a stab at dissecting the modern candidates. He believes that there are two locks to make it, and that Polamalu is one of them. He said that the only first-time eligible candidates he saw as locks were Polamalu and Patrick Willis.
But Willis didn’t make the final finalist list, so perhaps that is not a good sign.
“But Polamalu is going to make it in, no question”, he insisted. “He was the face of the Steelers defense during his time in Pittsburgh when the team won two Super Bowls and appeared in another. He reached the Pro Bowl eight times and was a four-time first-team All-Pro. He’s in”.
Let’s hope so. Because if he doesn’t make it in, it’s even less likely that Faneca does. Rank doesn’t have him making it—his other votes are for Steve Atwater, Edgerrin James, Zach Thomas, and Steve Hutchinson. Hutchinson is the other guard who was on the 2000s All-Decade team along with Faneca, and both have been waiting to get into Canton.
Rank sub-divides the rest of the candidates into ‘two guys I think will eventually get in’ (Reggie Wayne and Sam Mills), then ‘maybe not my jam, but they are totally getting in’ (Torry Holt and John Lynch. In between the latter and the ‘NO’ category (Bryant Young and Isaac Bruce), there are the ‘toughest calls’.
And that’s where Faneca is. “Again, another player who was really good for a long time”, he wrote. “And if Polamalu is in for sure, the voters love to do that thing where they double up teammates, so they can put the Steelers in the Hall of Fame game”.
Frankly, I don’t think that actually happens so often, and typically it’s one modern candidate and one senior candidate. That was the case several years ago when both Dermontti Dawson—another lineman who had to wait too long) and Jack Butler (WAY too long) both got in during the same class. It would sure be something if Polamalu, Faneca, and Shell were all able to go in together, but I’d really settle for two.