Congratulations were plentiful at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Thursday for two former Steelers teammates who are now nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2017.
Joey Porter, the team's outside linebackers coach, and Alan Faneca, who is assisting the offensive line periodically throughout the season, are among seven with Steelers ties who were nominated for the Hall of Fame on Wednesday night.
Porter, nominated in his first year of eligibility, said he got word while watching television last night and then the phone calls, texts and congratulations just spiraled.
"I was excited, happy," said Porter, who played for the Steelers from 1999-2006. "A lot of congratulations for me. It's definitely an exciting day at the Porter household. My wife and kids were excited. It's definitely big, definitely an honor.
"Even though it's just a nomination, being nominated for such a great honor is special. You play football as a kid and that is the ultimate goal after winning a championship. Whenever your name is mentioned around the great people in that group, it's a great honor."
Faneca is nominated for a second-consecutive year after being a finalist for the Class of 2016 in his first year of eligibility. He said he learned from last year's experience the best way to handle the entire process.
"You have to take it in stride, enjoy the process and just let it go," said Faneca, who played for the Steelers from 1998-07 and was an automatic nominee after being a finalist last year. "There is nothing you can do except keep moving along with what you are doing every day."
Joining Porter and Faneca are two of their former teammates, wide receiver Hines Ward (1998-2011) and linebacker Levon Kirkland (1992-2000), as well as Bill Cowher, who coached the team from 1992-2006. Porter, Ward and Faneca were all a part of the Super Bowl XL team that Cowher coached, and even though they didn't win four Super Bowls like the teams in the 1970s, the players are being recognized.
"That showed you how good we were when we played," said Porter. "We had a real good team and now guys are being recognized, Faneca, Hines, me, Jerome (Bettis), we all played with each other. There will be other guys that follow that. However it works out, I am excited.
"We didn't win that many Super Bowls so you don't understand how good you really were. But I played on three or four AFC Championships with that same team, so I know how good we thought we were. We just didn't get all of the championships. Now you are starting to see the results of how good that team was. We had that nice run with each other. A lot of guys are starting to get recognized and that is a good honor too."
Also among the 94 nominees are former Steelers kicker Gary Anderson and Coach Buddy Parker.