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Bronze or bust
Moments defined Alan Faneca as much as All-Pro recognition
By Mike Prisuta Feb 08, 2021

Gone from the Steelers since the conclusion of the 2007 season and from the NFL since the final whistle blew in 2010, Alan Faneca is poised to at long last arrive at his final pro football destination.

Canton, Ohio, and The Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Faneca's resume, indeed, screams Hall of Fame, from his six-pack of All-Pro recognitions, to the Super Bowl he won with the Steelers in the 2005 campaign to the first-team All-Decade 2000-09 recognition bestowed upon Faneca by the very institution to which he will soon be formally enshrined.

Such honors attest to the type of player Faneca became.

But it's the moments that betray the man.

And Faneca's 10 years with the Steelers included more than enough of those.

Among the most memorable:



April 11, 1998: The Film Doesn't Lie

The reaction among the coaches and the personnel department ranged from satisfaction to giddiness in the aftermath of the Steelers' making Faneca the 26th overall selection of the 1998 NFL Draft. One of the scouts was particularly elated.

He was asked in a hallway in the bowels of Three Rivers Stadium what made Faneca so special.

The response spoke volumes:

"If you're playing against him, you better not be standing around any piles at the conclusion of a play."

Take a look at some of the best photos of G Alan Faneca

The 6-foot-4, 322-pound guard from LSU would not have to be coached up on the importance of playing to the echo of the whistle, and at times even a little bit beyond that.

"If the play's still going on I'm coming to get you," Faneca recalled this week regarding his approach as a player.

And if the play had just ended?

"Especially back in the day, you could get away with it," Faneca continued. "Today, you'd get kicked out of the league but back then those were like free hits.

"'Keep your head on a swivel,' thats what I told people."

Faneca would fit right in with the Steelers.



Oct. 12, 2003: Whatever It Takes

With the offensive line ravaged by injuries, Faneca started at left tackle for the 2-3 Steelers against the 4-1 Broncos in Denver. Faneca had been named first-team All-Pro at guard for two consecutive seasons, but with the Steelers growing more desperate during the week's preparation he switched positions willingly.

"I kept telling (offensive line coach) Russ (Grimm), 'If you're gonna put me out there at least let me get some snaps in practice,'" Faneca explained.

The Steelers made the move midway through the Thursday practice in advance of the Denver game.

The initial plan was for Mathias Nkwenti to come in at left tackle and for Faneca to move back to left guard on obvious passing downs, but that went out the window once Nkwenti was injured.

Faneca ended up starting nine of the final 11 games at left tackle for a team that ended up 6-10.

The following season he was back at left guard, the first in what became a run of four straight first-team All-Pro designations.

The only time Faneca wasn't a first-team All-Pro guard between the 2001 and 2007 seasons was in 2003, when he spent the majority of his snaps at tackle.

The switch to an unfamiliar position (Faneca hadn't played tackle since high school) interrupted a run of what could have/would have been seven consecutive All-Pro campaigns.

"You just do it," Faneca reasoned in retrospect. "It's a team game. If you tell someone to do this and that's what we need to win, that's what you do."

The same logic applied to a two-point conversion late in the fourth quarter in '03 against the Broncos.

The Steelers trailed, 14-12, with 2:45 left in regulation.

They moved Faneca from left tackle back to left guard for a had-to-have-it, two-point conversion attempt, and Faneca pulled right and led running back Jerome Bettis into the end zone.

That the Steelers ultimately lost the game, 17-14, on a last-play, 47-yard field goal did nothing to detract from the majesty of Faneca escorting Bettis into the end zone with the Broncos fully aware of what was coming and still unable to stop it.

"If you didn't have an idea what was coming shame on you," Faneca said. "We had discussed it (resorting to such an option) a little bit going into that game. It only mattered so much (if the Broncos were tipped off by Faneca switching positions).

"We weren't going to screw around worrying about it."



Feb. 5, 2006: Just Like They Drew it Up

Running back Willie Parker's 75-yard touchdown run on the second offensive snap of the second half gave the Steelers a 14-3 lead over the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL, a game the Steelers would go on to win, 21-10.

Faneca pulled from left guard and wiped out linebacker LeRoy Hill.

“That’s why he might be the best guard in the league.” Al Michaels

Parker cut inside Faneca's block (avoiding safety Michael Boulware in the process) and behind one thrown by offensive tackle Max Starks on linebacker Lofa Tatupu and was gone.

"Alan Faneca made a heck of a block," analyst John Madden gushed on the television broadcast. "You can see him pull and get the block that sprung Parker."

Added play-by-play man Al Michaels: "That's why he might be the best guard in the league."

But Faneca maintained the credit belonged to the Steelers' coaches.

"What's the movie line, I love it when a plan comes together? We set that up," Faneca said. "We had about eight plays with (wide receiver Antwaan) Randle El over in the slot (on the left side of the formation). We knew if we could just make a little hay over there, just keep doing it and pester them that they would slide the defense over and try to take that away.

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"It was a check on every single one."

The Steelers, Faneca said, had noticed the Seahawks responding to such situations consistently on tape, but Seattle opponents for whatever reason hadn't taken advantage.

The Steelers didn't miss their chance and they spring the trap.

"(The Seahawks) made the adjustment at halftime and slid right over," Faneca said.

The first snap of the second half was a Roethlisberger pass to wide receiver Hines Ward that fell incomplete.

The second was Parker's sprint into history.

"It was like a 'holy (expletive)' moment," Faneca said of his pre-snap read. "That's what I told myself, 'Holy (expletive), here we go.

"That's really on the coaching staff."

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