While we now know the ultimate fates of Bill Cowher and Donnie Shell, the two former members of the Pittsburgh Steelers organization who were among the finalists for inclusion into the 2020 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame via the Centennial Slate, there are still two more members on which we are awaiting word.
There are 15 finalists for the five spots for modern players, which will be voted on the day before the Super Bowl. Among the 15 finalists are the first-time-eligible Troy Polamalu, as well as Alan Faneca, who has already been waiting for a few years.
Steelers president Art Rooney II recently talked with Stan Savran about a variety of topics, largely pertaining to this year’s Hall of Fame process, which should not be surprising given the heavy inclusion of members of the organization and the timing of the conversation.
While he had previously said that he had the opportunity to speak with former defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, who was a member of the Blue Ribbon panel that voted on the Centennial Slate, as mentioned earlier, the voting for the modern players is still weeks away, so all we have right now is chatter. But that chatter seemed to be in a favorable direction as it relates to Polamalu.
“You hear things that sound positive. We’ve been hearing mostly positive things. I’d like to think that if Ed Reed got in on his first year of eligibility, then Troy would follow suit”, Rooney said. “A lot of people are saying that, but it’s just, you never know. Every year, there are more guys eligible than are going to get in, so we’re just keeping our fingers cross for Troy, an Alan. But I really do think Troy, in my book, is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. We’re praying and keeping our fingers and toes crossed here”.
I wish I could say that I would be surprised if Polamalu does not get in on the first ballot, but the truth is, I wouldn’t be, and not because I don’t think he’s deserving. I think the critical consensus after the fact has made the determination that Reed was the dominant safety of the era. His inclusion on the NFL 100 All-Time Team, relative to Polamalu’s absence, speaks to that.
That said, I still believe that he will be voted in this year, though I remain skeptical about Faneca, especially with two other offensive linemen among the finalists. I do anticipate a decent representation for the organization in Canton this year, however. Of course, we already know there will be a Steelers presence based on what has been confirmed.