Steelers greats Alan Faneca and Hines Ward have been named Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists for the Class of 2021.
It’s the fifth straight year that both Faneca and Ward have been named at least semifinalists. The 25 semifinalists will be further narrowed to 15 finalists before the decisions on the Class of 2021 are made on the Saturday before the Super Bowl.
Faneca has been a finalist five straight times and a semifinalist six times. He played guard for the Steelers from 1998-2007 after being selected by the team in the first round of the 1998 NFL Draft out of LSU. Faneca was one of the most dominant offensive linemen of his era, and was chosen to participate in nine Pro Bowls and was an eight-time All-Pro. He is a member of the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade Team and won Super Bowl XL with the Steelers.
Ward has not yet made it to the final round. The Korean-born Ward won two Super Bowls with Pittsburgh and was the MVP of Super Bowl XL after his game-sealing touchdown reception. His impact as a blocker was so well-known that the NFL changed its rules to prevent blindside blocks downfield, which has come to be known as the Hines Ward Rule. Ward was named to four Pro Bowls, was a three-time All-Pro and is on the Steelers’ All-Time Team.
Faneca and Ward were among six Steelers players nominated in the class. Kicker Gary Anderson, nose tackle Casey Hampton, tight end Heath Miller and outside linebacker Joey Porter did not advance to the second round of the process, as the 130 nominees were trimmed to 25 semifinalists.
The other semifinalists in the Class of 2021 are CB Eric Allen, DE Jared Allen, T Willie Anderson, CB Ronde Barber, LB Cornelius Bennett, T Tony Boselli, S LeRoy Butler, S Rodney Harrison, WR Torry Holt, WR Calvin Johnson, FS John Lynch, QB Peyton Manning, LB Clay Matthews, LB Sam Mills, DT Richard Seymour, WR Steve Tasker, RB Fred Taylor, LB Zach Thomas, WR Reggie Wayne, LB Patrick Willis, CB Charles Woodson, S Darren Woodson and DT Bryant Young.
Former Steelers scout Bill Nunn was already selected as the contributor finalist in the Class of 2021.
The Steelers have three members in the Hall of Fame Class of 2020: safeties Troy Polamalu and Donnie Shell and former head coach Bill Cowher. The enshrinement of that class has been delayed until August 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Class of 2020 will be enshrined in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 7, 2021, while the Class of 2021 will be celebrated on Aug. 8, 2021.
The most recent Steelers to be inducted were linebacker Kevin Greene and defensive back and assistant coach Tony Dungy in 2016.