For 15 Days we will be counting down the Top 15 Greatest Steelers of the Bill Cowher Era. The list will have both offensive and defensive players, and in doing the list no kickers or punters were selected. Below is our number choice of the day building towards the number one Steeler of the Cowher Era.
Alan Faneca OL 1998-Present:
Despite the issues he know faces as he claims this will be his final season in a Steelers uniform, there is no question that one of the best offensive lineman in the last decade of the Pittsburgh Steelers is Alan Faneca. The New Orleans native has had a splendid career in Pittsburgh, and is in at number 8 on our Top 15 of the Cowher Era.
At 6-foot-5, 307 pounds, Faneca is the best offensive linemen that you’ve never heard of outside of Pittsburgh. It took a few years for the rest of the NFL to notice, but nowadays, Faneca is by far known as one of the best guards in the National Football League. Better at run blocking than protecting Big Ben, there have been plenty of plays over the years where a running back will take off becuase of a Faneca block that springs him free.
Faneca’s shining moment as a Steeler came two years ago, as he was the key block on Willie Parker’s key 75-yard run that was one of the big moments in Super Bowl XL. The highlights on Super Bowl XL time after time show the block that Faneca put on that sprung Parker free. If it were not for that block, Parker may have been stopped for 3-4 yards. Instead, 75 yards later he was in the end zone that gave the Steelers a 14-3 lead.
The Steelers chose Alan in the first round, 26th overall in the 1998 Draft out of LSU. After redshirting in 1994 at LSU, he caught on quickly in college as he was voted the South East Conference freshman of the year by Knoxville News Sentinel in 1995. In 1996 he was chosen for the All-American 2nd team, and in 97 he was a first team All-American. He started his last thirty six games at LSU and only allowed one sack in his last season.
Upon entering the NFL, he started his first year behind guards Will Wolford and Jim Sweeney, but injuries pushed him into the lineup that season, and he quickly showed why he was worth the 26th overall pick. That season he earned himself the Joe Greene Award as the teams top rookie and he had attained All-Rookie honors. The next year, he was a starter, and then in 2000 he really began to shine, as he helped the Steelers reach fourth in rushing. In 2001 he was also a big part of the Steelers re-birth as they reached the AFC Title game in their first year in Hinez Field.
In 2002 he reached the Pro-Bowl for the first of many times, and then in 03 he showed his versatility by going from left guard to left tackle due to injuries on the team. Alan has gained All-Pro honors in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2006, as well as a 2nd team bid in 2003, despite playing Tackle the majority of that season and has been to the Pro-Bowl six times while starting in five.
Much has been said about the battle that Faneca is having with the Steelers off the field right now, but there is no question that on it, he is one of the best offensive linemen the Steelers have ever had, and he is by far the best guard the team had in the Bill Cowher era.
Tomorrow: Number #7
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