Taking the next step to the HOF

Two Steelers legends took the next step toward football immortality when the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced the Gold Jacket semifinalists for the Class of 2020.

Guard Alan Faneca and safety Troy Polamlau are among the 15 Modern Era finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2020.

Faneca, a finalist for the fifth time, was the Steelers first-round draft pick in 1998 and played 10 seasons for the black and gold, and 13 overall in the NFL. He was a member of the Super Bowl XL Championship team and was selected to nine Pro Bowls. Faneca was a six-time All-Pro selection and was named to the Steelers All-Time Team in 2007 and the NFL 2000's All-Decade Team. He is also a member of the Steelers Hall of Honor.

"His ability to play that position, dominate at that position, but be athletic enough to move around and travel from the standpoint of pulling as an offensive lineman was rare," said Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis. "Usually when you do it, it doesn't end in success. When Alan pulled, we had a tremendous amount of success with our ability to pull."

Polamalu, who is in his first year of eligibility, was drafted by the Steelers in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft, the 16th pick overall. He played 12 seasons, redefining the way the safety position was played. A two-time Super Bowl champion, Polamalu also was a four-time first team All-Pro selection, two-time second team All-Pro selection, NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2010), eight-time Pro Bowler and a member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team and Steelers All-Time Team. His career totals include 12.0 sacks, 32 interceptions, 13 forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries during the regular season, and his postseason numbers include one half-sack and three interceptions, one which was returned for a touchdown.

"I have said consistently Troy will go in on the first ballot," said Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau, who was Polamalu's former defensive coordinator, in an exclusive interview. "I don't vote, but I sure did coach him. There are a select few that go in that first five-year period and he definitely belongs there.

"Troy was a dream come true to coach and it would be a tremendous honor and a dream come true to call him a fellow Hall of Famer."

The Hall of Fame Selection Committee will hold their annual meeting on 'Selection Saturday' on Feb.1, 2020. From the 15 finalists, a total of five will be selected for the Class of 2020. The players will join 15 additional enshrinees to form the Centennial Class of 2020. A special Blue-Ribbon Panel will meet in early January to elect the additional 15 members which includes 10 Seniors (players who last played more than 25 years ago), three Contributors (an individual other than a player or coach) and two Coaches.

Former Steelers safety Donnie Shell and coaches Bill Cowher and Buddy Parker are among the finalists the Blue-Ribbon Panel will choose from.

The Class of 2020 will be announced during the "NFL Honors" show.

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