The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Steelers oversaturation will prevent Alan Faneca from being voted in for 2020.
Explanation: The Pro Football Hall of Fame is doing something that up to now is unique in their history, producing a Centennial Slate in which 15 non-modern players are being inducted in addition to the five modern players. Chances are, none of us will be alive to see the 200th anniversary. Two Steelers were part of the Centennial Slate. Even Art Rooney II has said that he believes there is some bias, whether subconscious or not, against teams or eras with too many players, either in total or in one class. Troy Polamalu and Faneca are both among the 15 modern finalists this year.
Whether it’s specific to the Steelers or not, it’s almost impossible to deny that such biases are real, and exist. I think that Rooney publicly acknowledging this in the days leading up to the official Centennial Slate announcement was pretty telling.
With two players already going in, and Troy Polamalu pretty much a mandatory selection as a first-ballot candidate widely regarded as representing the top of his position in his era, putting in a fourth Steeler in the same class will strike many voters as overkill—especially those representing one of the other 13 finalists. And enough of them will vote accordingly.
While there is a good chance that Faneca will not get in this year, it doesn’t have to be because of an anti-Steelers bias. If there is a bias present, it may be positional. There are three linemen among the finalists this year, the others being Steve Hutchinson and Tony Boselli. While the latter didn’t have as long a career, he played the more prestigious position of tackle. The former was the other guard on the all-2000s team, and there is a legitimate argument to be made that he was as good or better.
Then there is the alternative possibility that, you know, Faneca actually does get in. while there is an argument for Hutchinson, the argument is there for Faneca as well. And who knows, maybe the voters will decide that they actually want to see a large contingent from one team, who is widely expected to be playing in the Hall of Fame game. What better way to make it as big a celebration as possible? It would be a major event for one of the league’s most prestigious and popular franchises.