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: This is the year Alan Faneca will make it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Explanation: We still have time before the 2020 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame is announced, but we know that once again Steelers great Alan Faneca is among the 15 finalists. While the Hall expanded its centennial class pool, it will still consist of only five modern-era candidates.
The committee knows they have too many linemen to get into the hall, and Kevin Mawae just got in last year. It’s Faneca’s turn, as he has the most well-rounded resume of those qualified, including not just a Super Bowl win, but a signature play in said Super Bowl in an iconic moment. Justified or not, such things do have an influence. And it’s not often you can point to a singular play for a lineman.
This class isn’t overwhelming with new faces. Zach Thomas is nominated for the first time, and frankly, the recent he hadn’t been in years past is because there were more worthy names. Reggie Wayne is in his first year of eligibility, but doesn’t have to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. It Terrell Owens wasn’t, he’s not. The same with names like Torry Holt and Sam Mills, Steve Atwater and LeRoy Butler. These guys have waited for a long time. They may all continue to wait. Faneca has already waited longer than he should have.
There remains a log-jam at the offensive line position, with Steve Hutchinson and Tony Boselli both once again among the finalists. That could not only result in him losing out on the ‘lineman’ spot in the class, but maybe even results there being split votes and the decision ultimately going to none of them. There are certainly those who feel Hutchinson is the better guard, and the tackle position is more valued overall.
Then there is the ‘Steelers’ factor. With Troy Polamalu one of the headlining members of the class, and potentially Donnie Shell also making it as a senior candidate, we could be looking at three of 20 members of the 2020 class being Steelers. Whether explicitly or otherwise, they tend to avoid such ‘double-dipping’, though they have in more recent years been, for example, more willing to enshrine two members of the same position in the same class.