Cook: Faneca's next stop should be the Hall
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Joe Greene? The greatest Steeler of all time.
Terry Bradshaw? The greatest quarterback in team history, although Ben Roethlisberger is closing quickly.
Franco Harris? The greatest running back.
Mel Blount or Rod Woodson? I'll take Blount at cornerback.
Jack Lambert or Jack Ham? I'll take either linebacker.
Lynn Swann, John Stallworth or Hines Ward? Too close to pick just one wide receiver.
Is this fun or what?
Among the many joys of having a storied NFL franchise in town is trying to rank its legendary players.
So where are you putting Alan Faneca, who announced his retirement last week, on the Steelers' list of great offensive linemen?
I've got him No. 2, right behind Mike Webster and just ahead of Dermontti Dawson.
There haven't been a lot of great offensive linemen in Steelers history. Plenty of very good ones, but few truly great ones. Webster was the best. Lambert put the toughness in the Steel Curtain defense of the 1970s, Iron Mike in the team's offense. Webster is the only Steelers' offensive linemen in the Hall of Fame. In a way, that seems appropriate because he was one of a kind. We probably won't see another like him here for a long time.
Larry Brown, a converted tight end, was an outstanding tackle on the Super Steelers of the '70s. Coach Chuck Noll always maintained he might have been his most unappreciated player. Who can argue with The Emperor? Brown made just one Pro Bowl.
It's a crying shame that Dawson isn't in the Hall of Fame. There hardly was any drop-off after he took over at center from Webster in 1988. Dawson was among the 10 finalists for the Hall for the second consecutive year when the voting was done in February, but he didn't get the call despite making seven Pro Bowls and six All-Pro teams during his magnificent career. There can be just one explanation: An anti-Steelers bias among the voters, who think there are too many Steelers in the Hall.
I know, I can't believe it, either.
It's just ridiculous.
Woodson, who was enshrined in 2009, was good enough to beat the bias. Dawson, who has been eligible for the Hall for five years, and running back Jerome Bettis, who made it to the final 15 in February in his first year of eligibility, still need to sway a few voters. It will happen one day. Hopefully, one day soon.
I have just two questions about this silly bias: What in the world do Dawson and Bettis have to do with the fact that nine Steelers from the Super '70s are in the Hall? And shouldn't their careers be judged on their merits alone?
Really, doesn't that just seem like common sense?
Certainly, Faneca's credentials are Hall of Fame-worthy. His 13-year NFL career included nine Pro Bowls and six All-Pro selections. He was picked to the Steelers' 75th anniversary team. He also has what Dawson couldn't quite get -- a Super Bowl ring. I realize that shouldn't be a high priority among the voters. A player can be great without playing on a great team. Dan Marino, anyone? But a championship never hurts, right?
Faneca was a key member of the Steelers' Super Bowl XL team in 2005. The Hall of Fame voters need only to look at that Super Bowl game in Detroit against the Seattle Seahawks for Faneca's signature block. Steelers running back Willie Parker always will be remembered for his 75-yard touchdown run on the second play of the second half, the longest run in Super Bowl history. But it was a block by Faneca on a play the Steelers call Counter 34 Pike that helped to spring him. Faneca absolutely buried linebacker Leroy Hill.
Watch the play on YouTube.
Tell me that isn't a Hall of Fame lineman at work.
First Published May 15, 2011 12:00 am