Alan Faneca was finally (and rightfully) inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2021, and he's now on the quest to get one of his longtime teammates into Canton alongside him.
We're talking about wide receiver Hines Ward, of course, who was teammates with Faneca starting in their rookie seasons in 1998, and ending in 2007 when Faneca signed with the Jets. Over that decade-long span, Faneca watched Ward record nearly 9,000 yards and earn four Pro Bowl nominations, becoming and remaining a fan favorite for the Steelers throughout his stay. Faneca watched Ward help bring a Super Bowl to the Steel City while they were teammates in 2005, and then again in 2008 when Faneca was in New York. Faneca even got to see Ward run for an incredible, life-saving touchdown on the big screen, which isn't on his Hall of Fame resume but is an impressive accomplishment all the same.
The only thing that Faneca hasn't seen is Ward don that Haggar Gold Jacket, but will he at some point?
"My first answer to that is, I better, because he deserves it," Faneca said on "The Eye Test for Two" podcast. "You know he absolutely, 100 percent deserves it... like you said, he doesn't have the numbers, per se, like other receivers are gonna have.
"...But the things that he did, they might not add up and he might not have the stats, but the impact he had on the game when he went out there and played, you know? People tuned in to watch Hines Ward and to see what Hines Ward was doing. They came to games to watch Hines and see the big hits and the blocks and the big plays and the reverses and the passes, and they came to see Hines Ward. He deserves that gold jacket and I hope that one day he gets it, and he's not 60-70 years old when he gets it, because he deserves to get it and enjoy it."
There are only 11 inactive players with at least 12,000 receiving yards that are not enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and a handful of those players — Anquan Boldin and Andre Johnson, for instance — are likely shoo-ins once they become eligible for induction. However, Ward is a part of that group and has yet to see his name get called, along with names like Reggie Wayne and Torry Holt.
If it were up to Faneca, Ward would be in the Class of 2022, but it remains to be seen how his case will unfold.