We’re just days away now before we find out who the five modern players are who will be a part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2020. Of the 15 finalists, two were prominent members of the Pittsburgh Steelers and participants in their Super Bowl era of the mid-2000s.
One of the highlights of the class is regarded as Troy Polamalu, and it feels as though the general consensus is he will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Along with Ed Reed, he is the unquestioned best safety of his era, and is credited for changing the way the game is played.
The harder sell is for long-time guard Alan Faneca, who also went on to play for the Arizona Cardinals and the New York Jets before retiring. A nine-time Pro Bowler and six-time All-Pro, with a ring to his name and a signature block in said title game, there’s a reason he’s been a finalist for several years, but he’s struggled to get over the hump.
Not that he’s lacked endorsements, and the most recent comes from a Hall of Fame guard, former Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak. Faneca worked as a coaching intern with the team for two summers while Munchak was here, so they also got to know each other.
“Alan Faneca showed up every Sunday for 13 seasons and dominated in the trenches”, Munchak told the team’s website. “He was well-decorated for that by his peers with all the Pro Bowl appearances, All-Pros, by the media. People recognized his work for over a decade”.
“Just love his tenacity, his endurance, his work ethic, how he played the game week-in, week-out”, he went on. ”Tough guy. He fit the mold, and like I said, very dominant football player. Just the consistency. No matter who he played against, the results were the same. He made guys around him better”.
Faneca is one of three offensive linemen among the 15 finalists. There were four last year, with center Kevin Mawae being favored. He is joined again by guard Steve Hutchinson and tackle Tony Boselli. Faneca and Hutchinson were the guards on the 2000s All-Decade team.
Munchak called him “the best of his decade”, and likened him to “guys like Larry Allen and Will Shields”, saying that “he’s the next guy. They’re in the Hall of Fame, that’s where he needs to be. He had a very similar career in the same amount of time, so I’m real excited for him. I’m glad I got a chance to know him, but more importantly, I got a chance to watch him play, and just, one of the best players to ever play the position”.