The Pro Bowl has been accused of becoming a popularity contest in the public vote over talent and performance, and perhaps when you consider the offensive line many didn’t know who to vote for as they mainly take notice of the skill positions, but one man through the 2000’s stood out among most as truly elite, a guard who every pro would surely agree was one of the best to play the game, and that is 9 time Pro Bowler Alan Faneca.
“I mentioned Alan because he was an elite offensive lineman, one of the best I ever played with,” said Bettis. “He is worthy of being in the Hall of Fame as well because of his exceptional play and his extended length of greatness.” – Jerome Bettis
Faneca was drafted by the Steelers in 1998 and quickly secured a spot on the line for a decade. He blocked for the Bus Jerome Bettis and Fast Willie Parker in their Superbowl run of 2005 when they ended up beating the Seahawks in Detroit. Faneca was one of only 5 players to get a personal mention in Bettis’s Hall of Fame speech.
“I told him I knew you were going to be a good player the first time you came in as a rookie. Most guys don’t come in that seasoned like he was. He was quick, strong, and knowledgeable. – Dermontti Dawson.
Dawson was the centre for the Steelers offensive line when Faneca entered the league, he quickly saw huge potential. He wasn’t the only one, coming out of LSU in the lead up to the draft, scouts described him as “a monster”, “toughest M F in the draft”, and “one of the best guards ive seen in a long time”. It’s a wonder he lasted all the way to pick 26 in the drafts, today teams realise the value of the line and take players like Quenton Nelson with a much higher pick.
“I think a Hall of Famer is somebody who truly has the career that inspires others to be like them. To be great. And every time he stepped on the field…he was great.” – Ray Lewis
Baltimore Raven Ray Lewis was often up against Faneca, with the Ravens being in the same division, the Steelers winning the division 4 times while Faneca was part of the Steelers to the Ravens 2. The honours do not stop coming for Faneca, as well as going to the Pro Bowl 9 times, he was a 6 time All-Pro, and part of the NFL 2000’s Team of the Decade.