The most prestigious collection of professional football players got another step closer to adding more black and gold to it’s decor.
On Thursday night, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its finalists for the 2019 class. Among those chosen was former Pittsburgh Steelers guard Alan Faneca.
Faneca, the team’s first round pick in the 1998 NFL Draft, proved to be arguably the best offensive guard during his time, adding nine Pro-Bowl selections and six first team All-Pro nods during his time.
Faneca’s time with the Steelers spanned for 10 seasons, winning Super Bowl XL with the team in 2005 before playing for the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals following his departure after the 2007 season. Although his last three seasons were spent outside of the steel city, Faneca is widely regarded as a fortified member of Steelers history, finding himself on the Pittsburgh Steelers All-Time Team, while also claiming a spot on the NFL’s All-2000’s team as well.
Faneca finds himself in great competition to get into Canton, Ohio. Tony Gonzalez, Ed Reed, Isaac Bruce and Champ Bailey top the list of the final 15 players for consideration. The 2019 Hall of Fame class will be revealed the night before the Super Bowl on February 2nd.
While the Steelers may not have found themselves competing for a championship, the team still has a chance to make noise on the first weekend of February, thanks to one of the greatest offensive linemen to ever play the game.
Mic Drop: WPXI’s Aaron Martin Offers Best, Worst Sports Memories
WPXI’s Aaron Martin joined Mike Asti to discuss some of his best and worst sports memories, both as a fan and ones that he was able to cover. Mike gets Aaron to ponder some “what ifs?” when it comes to Pittsburgh sports, which includes reliving some awful Steelers memories like the 2001 AFC Championship loss to the Patriots.
Could Leonard Fournette follow Jerome Bettis as Hall of Fame Running Back Acquired in Trade?
Leonard Fournette is not Jerome Bettis.
At least not yet.
But if the Steelers pull of a trade for Fournette — like some are speculating they could or should. The comparisons between that and the trade with the St. Louis Rams that brought them Jerome Bettis would be immediate.
It was fourteen years and one day ago (April 20, 1996) that the Steelers acquired Jerome Bettis and a third-round pick for the team’s second-round pick in that year’s draft and a fourth-round selection in 1997.
Bettis had exploded into the league with 1429 yards on the ground in his first year. However the Rams weren’t a great team at the time and Bettis struggled in years two and three. After the Rams drafted Nebraska running back Lawrence Phillips in the first-round, the team turned around and dealt Bettis to the Steelers.
Fournette like Bettis was at the time, is going into his fourth year in the NFL. Both were top 10 selections in the NFL Draft. Unlike Bettis, Fournette is coming off his best season as a pro by far. Even while stuck on the offensively inept Jacksonville Jaguars in 2019, Fournette had 1152 yards rushing on a career best 4.3 yards per carry and added 76 receptions for 522 yards. His 1674 yards from scrimmage placed him 6th in the league. By comparison, Jerome Bettis was coming off a season in which he had only 743 all-purpose yards.
While the Bettis swap is now regarded as one of the worst in NFL history, at the time, the Rams looked like they were doing the smart thing, getting rid of a underachieving back on the cusp of free agency. Unfortunately for them, Phillips was a bust, and the back they traded away ended up with 1431 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first year with the new team.
It’s a decidedly different era in NFL history. Running backs have very little value and even shorter careers. But if a player of Fournette’s caliber can be had for a mid-round draft pick, would the Steelers be interested in another trade for a running back?
No matter what, it probably wouldn’t work out as well as the one that brought Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis to the Steelers in 1996.
Steelers Maurkice Pouncey, Antonio Brown Selected to NFL All-2010s Team
Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey and former Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown have been named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All-Decade team for the 2010’s, the organization announced on Monday.
Pouncey, who was drafted by the Steelers in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, is entering his 12th season with the team this fall. The well-decorated veteran will add this honor to his eight Pro Bowls and five All-Pro selections.
Brown was also selected in the 2010 draft by the Steelers, as the club nabbed him in the sixth round out of Central Michigan. That proved to be a prescient investment. In his nine years with the Steelers, Brown amassed 11,207 receiving yards and 74 touchdowns, leading the NFL in receiving yards in 2014 and 2017, in receptions in 2014 and 2015 and in touchdowns in 2018. He was selected to seven Pro Bowls and was a five-time All-Pro choice before being traded to the Oakland Raiders in advance of the 2019 season.
The two selections represent the Steelers’ lowest number of representatives on an all-decade team since the 1960s, when the team did not have a representative.
Steelers had three selections to the all-2000s team: guard Alan Faneca, linebacker Joey Porter and safety Troy Polamalu. Center Dermontti Dawson, linebackers Kevin Greene, Hardy Nickerson and Levon Kirkland, cornerback Rod Woodson and safety Carnell Lake were selected to the 1990s team. Cornerback Mel Blount, kicker Gary Anderson and head coach Chuck Noll were chosen in the 1980s. In the 1970s, wide receiver Lynn Swann, center Mike Webster, quarterback Terry Bradshaw, running back Franco Harris, defensive linemen L.C. Greenwood and Joe Greene, linebackers Jack Lambert and Jack Ham and Noll were all chosen.