The Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee made their five Modern-Era choices for the 2020 class on Saturday in Miami and while they rightfully elected former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, their snubbing of former guard Alan Faneca for a fifth consecutive year was downright embarrassing.
A Saturday snubbing of Faneca has to be a result of several Hall of Fame selection committee members being biased against the Steelers and already having a serious case of black and gold fatigue entering the day already knowing that two former members of the Pittsburgh organization, safety Donnie Shell and head coach Bill Cowher, would already be members of the 2020 class to be enshrined in Canton later this summer and in addition to Polamalu, a no-brainer first-ballot selection this year.
Faneca’s Saturday snubbing by the Pro Football Hall of Fame committee is even more evident due to the fact that former NFL guard Steve Hutchinson was voted in as one of the five Modern-Era members for 2020.
While Hutchinson was a great NFL guard during his playing days and certainly deserving of Canton enshrinement, him going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame before Faneca is absurd and both the game tape and stats back up that declaration.
For starters, Faneca played one more season in the NFL than Hutchinson did and 37 more games. Not only did Faneca out-hardware Hutchinson in first-team All-Pros and Pro Bowl selections during the two player’s careers, he also won one Super Bowl. That Super Bowl win of Faneca’s came at Hutchinson’s expense in a 2005 game in Detroit that included the Steelers left guard delivering a key block to spring running back Willie Parker for a 75-yard touchdown run early in the second half.
While Faneca did get voted First-Team All-Pro six times during his career, that number would be seven had he unselfishly played quite extensively at left tackle for the Steelers during the 2003 season due to injuries on the offensive line that season. There were games that season where Faneca played both left side positions depending on the down and he hadn’t even played left tackle since high school. Had Faneca played the entire 2003 season at left guard, he easily would have been a First-Team All-Pro again that season.
Oh, guess who won their first of five First-Team All-Pro awards in 2003? Hutchinson. Faneca had to settle for being Second-Team All-Pro that season behind Hutchinson because he played quite a bit at left tackle that season.
That fact that Faneca played in 206 out of a possible 208 regular season games during his 13 years in the NFL is also incredible. He only missed one game during his long NFL career due to injury and that happened in his sophomore 1999 season as an ankle injury befell him in Week 4. While Faneca also missed the Steelers 2001 Week 17 season finale, that was a coach’s decision as the team already had their playoff spot locked up. The next nine seasons from 2002-2010, Faneca never missed a game.
Take notice that the message in this post does not include me slighting Hutchinson, his play, or deservingness of a bust in Canton. He belongs, but he should have followed Faneca through the doors just the same. That’s the message.
During these last several weeks, two Hall of Fame linebackers Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher, both of whom played against Faneca during their respective careers, vouched on record that the former Steelers guard is more than worthy of a bust in Canton alongside theirs. Think that mattered one bit to the bulk of the Hall of Fame selection committee? Probably not, even though it should have.
According to Pro Football Reference, there are currently two Hall of Fame eligible players not enshrined in Canton that were named First-Team All-Pro six or more times during their NFL careers. Faneca is one of those two players and Jim Tyrer is the other. Tyrer, who retired in 1975, ultimately killed his wife and then committed suicide in 1980 and thus that’s likely a strong reason as to why he hasn’t been voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame to date.
Another non eligible player on that PFR list, former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, will be eligible next year and he’s sure to be a first-ballot selection. Will Faneca finally join the elite in Canton next year? We’ll see, but that should have happened this year and the selection committee members who didn’t vote for Faneca this year know that deep down inside. They punished Faneca for playing most of his career in Pittsburgh as a member of the Steelers and that’s just not right.
Yes, the Hall of Fame selection committee failed miserably at their jobs on Saturday as a whole and all because they see the count of a specific uniform color being more important than the play of players. That’s a damn shame.