PITTSBURGH, PA – One former Steelers great gets the call, or more literally, the knock on the door, while another has to wait (again). Safety Troy Polamalu has been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, but Guard Alan Faneca misses out for the fifth year in a row.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) February 1, 2020
Polamalu, who becomes the 80th player to be elected in his first year on the ballot in history, played 12 seasons for the Steelers from 2003-14 after being a first-round draft pick out of USC in 2003, winning two Super Bowls. He made eight Pro Bowls, was selected four times as a first-team All-Pro, received second-team All-Pro honors twice and was the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2010.
Polamalu was previously selected as a member of the NFL’s 2000s all-decade team and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ all-time team. Polamalu was also recently inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He finished his NFL career by playing in 158 games and recording 770 tackles, 12 sacks, 32 interceptions, 14 forced fumbles and scored three touchdowns.
While this year’s induction ceremony will have a major Steelers vibe to it with Polamalu joining a class that already includes Bill Cowher, Donnie Shell and Buddy Parker, it will also be bitter sweet for Steelers Nation with Faneca being left out.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) February 1, 2020
The Steelers’ first-round pick out of LSU in 1998, Faneca played 13 NFL seasons, spending his first 10 years in Pittsburgh from 1998-07, taking part in the team’s Super Bowl XL victory. Over the course of his career, Faneca was named to nine Pro Bowls, was a six-time first-team All-Pro and a two-time second-team All-Pro. He was named to the NFL’s 2000s all-decade team and the Steelers’ All-Time Team.
Former Steelers Coach Woody Widenhofer Dies at 77
Former Steelers assistant coach and Butler, Pa. native Woody Widenhofer died at the age of 77 on Sunday, his son told the Tennessean.
Widenhofer coached the Steelers linebackers from 1973-78 and was the team’s defensive coordinator from 1979-83, winning four Super Bowls with the team.
“We are saddened to learn of the passing of Woody Widenhofer,” Steelers president Art Rooney II said in a press release. “Woody played an important role coaching our famed Steel Curtain defense when he helped us win four Super Bowls in the 1970s.
“He coached some of the best linebackers in NFL history during his time in Pittsburgh and was later elevated to defensive coordinator, where he guided the defense in our Super Bowl XIV victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
“A native of Butler, Woody will be missed by those who knew him and played under him. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Widenhofer family.”
After his time with the Steelers, Widenhofer became a head coach in the USFL and with Missouri and Vanderbilt. He also served as defensive coordinator with the Detroit Lions, Southeastern Louisiana and New Mexico State and was linebackers coach with the Cleveland Browns.
Widenhofer retired from coaching in 2007. He is the second member of the 1970s Steelers coaching staff to die this year. Offensive and defensive line coach Dan Radakovich died in February.
Steelers to Face Cowboys in Hall of Fame Game
Officially announced today, The Steelers and Cowboys, two of the league’s most legendary franchises, will face off in this year’s preseason Hall of Fame game at Tom Benson HOF Stadium in Canton Ohio, August 06, 2020 at 8:00 PM.
Tickets will go on sale this Friday (3/13) at 10am ET. pic.twitter.com/uMSFIPWf3X
— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) March 10, 2020
Tickets will go on sale starting Friday at 10 AM.
This will be each team’s seventh appearance in the Hall of Fame game, tied for the most of any franchise. Both teams also hold a 3-3 record in the glorified preseason game.
The last time the Steelers participated in the Hall of Fame game was 2015, the year running back Jerome Bettis was enshrined.
It comes as no surprise that the Steelers and Cowboys were selected for the Hall of Fame game considering the iconic figures they will each have inducted this year.
The Steelers will have head coach Bill Cowher and safety Troy Polamalu enshrined as a part of the Centennial Class of 2020, while the Cowboys will send former head coach Jimmie Johnson to Canton. Former Steelers safety Donnie Shell will also be inducted later as a part of the Hall of Fame Centennial Celebration in September.
Steelers and Cowboys is one of the NFL’s most storied rivalries. The franchises have met in three Super Bowls, with Pittsburgh taking the series edge 2-1.
Cowher to Receive Rooney Award, Name HOF Presenter
Former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher has set a date to announce his Pro Football Hall of Fame presenter, the same night he will receive an award named after Dan Rooney, according to Teresa Varley of Steelers.com.
Cowher will announce his presenter on March 17th at the Ireland Funds America Pittsburgh Gala. He will also be honored with an award inspired by the late Steelers owner.
Bill Cowher will announce his @ProFootballHOF presenter when he is honored on March 17 at the Ireland Funds America Pittsburgh Gala where he will receive a new award named after Dan Rooney.
— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) February 25, 2020
Over his 15 years as head coach, Cowher led the Steelers to eight division titles, six AFC Championship game appearances and a victory in Super Bowl XL.
Cowher will officially be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the 2020 Centennial Class, along with two other Steelers in safeties Troy Polamalu and Donnie Shell.