Former Steelers guard Alan Faneca and linebacker Kevin Greene are among the 15 candidates under consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame at tonight's annual meeting.
By Gene Collier / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
SAN FRANCISCO — Even at the game’s highest level, the guard position in the NFL is populated by some of the most anonymous people in sports, and their road to the Pro Football Hall of Fame is typically long and arduous.
Still, they have to start somewhere, and for former Steelers road-grader Alan Faneca, the process will begin to play out today when Hall of Fame selectors meet to choose the Class of 2016.
“Alan Faneca is a special player,” former Steelers coach Bill Cowher said of the man who made nine Pro Bowls and helped Cowher win his only Super Bowl 10 years ago. “To me, he represented us as a power-running football team. We either ran left behind him, or if we ran right, we pulled him.
“Pretty much, that was our running game. He kind of exemplified what we were. He was a modern-day guard who was just so dominant at his position. He played at such a high level and he did it for a number of years on a lot of quality teams.”
Faneca and former Steelers linebacker Kevin Greene are among the 15 candidates up for consideration at the annual meeting, with former Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler and Terrell Owens, who played wideout for five teams, among the most topical this week.
Stabler died from colon cancer in July 2015, but a New York Times story this week said doctors in Massachusetts concluded that he had suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), making Stabler one of the first prominent NFL quarterbacks with that concussion-related pathology.
Owens, ever the accomplished newsmaker as he made his way through franchises from San Francisco to Philadelphia to Dallas to Buffalo to Cincinnati, made no news himself this week but took some verbal elbows from former St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz. Martz told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he doesn’t think Owens should be a Hall finalist in his first year of eligibility when former Rams receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce were not.
“Surprised isn’t the word,” Martz told the paper. “You can’t print how I felt when T.O. leapfrogged those two. That’s just plain out-and-out ridiculous.”
Owens is one of two wide receivers to be considered, the other being former Indianapolis Colts standout Marvin Harrison.
Selectors also much consider Denver running back Terrell Davis; Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre; Tampa Bay and Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy; Washington tackle Joe Jacoby; running back Edgerrin James, who played for St. Louis, Arizona, and Seattle; Tampa Bay and Denver safety John Lynch; St. Louis tackle Orlando Pace; quarterback Kurt Warner, who played for St. Louis, New York Giants, and Arizona; kicker Morten Andersen, who played for five teams; Denver and New York Jets safety Steve Atwater; St. Louis and San Diego coach Don Coryell; Detroit and Washington guard Dick Stanfel; and San Francisco owner Edward DeBartolo Jr.
The Class of 2016 will be revealed on the NFL Honors show at 9 p.m. today on KDKA.
Gene Collier: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @genecollier.
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