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Steelers’ Hall of Fame Guard Alan Faneca Blew Up At Offensive Line Coach Russ Grimm During Super Bowl 40

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Steelers’ Hall of Fame Guard Alan Faneca Blew Up At Offensive Line Coach Russ Grimm During Super Bowl 40

Alan Faneca is one of the greatest offensive lineman to ever play for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Enshrined to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the 2021 class, he was named to the NFL 2000’s All-Decade Team, 7 Pro Bowls and 6 First Team All-Pros selections.

Faneca was never hesitant to voice his opinion or take a stand, which led to his leaving the team after a bitter contract dispute in 2007.  Faneca stated he had no regrets in departing the Steelers, citing it was a “tough decision” and cost him a second Super Bowl ring.  He still “retired” as a member of the Steelers and chose Hines Ward to be his presenter in order to get his teammate exposure to the Hall of Fame voters.

Hines Ward presents Alan Faneca into the 2021 Hall of Fame Class – Pittsburgh Post Gazette

During the 2005 season, Faneca was the anchor of one of the best offensive lines in Steelers history as they made their historic run to defeat the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL.

With Detroit being the hometown of Jerome Bettis, the spiritual leader of the Steelers who the team rallied around, many players took in the moment to visit the Bettis household for a party.  Faneca was not among them.  He stated that he was there to win a Super Bowl and the deal was not done.  Most of the offensive line followed suit.

During the course of the first half of Super Bowl XL, things were not going to plan early on, and the offense was not playing well.  Ben Roethlisberger was struggling in the big moment, but was able to score on a touchdown run that gave the Steelers a 7-3 lead at the half.  Two plays into the second half, the Seahawks shifted their LBs out of position, and the Steelers checked into the play they saw the opening from.  Faneca saw it coming and recalled getting down in his stance thinking “Holy ****, we’re about to do it.”  The hand off to Willie Parker resulted in the longest TD run in Super Bowl history, but was most famous for the block that Faneca laid on Seahawks LB LeRoy Hill that sprung the 75-yard untouched sprint.

As the third quarter came to a close, the Steelers had the opportunity to go up 21-3 and put the Seahawks away, but a terrible Roethlisberger interception with Cedric Wilson alone in the end zone let the Seahawks get back to a 14-10 game in the fourth quarter.

Faneca and Roethlisberger were on the same page

On the ensuing kickoff, the Steelers backup center Chukky Okobi, was injured and out for the remainder of the game.  Faneca was the third option as emergency center, so offensive line coach Russ Grimm approached Faneca to instruct him on being ready to play center if needed and to take some warmup snaps with Roethlisberger.  Starting center Jeff Hartings was already playing with a hurt knee, increasing the chance that Faneca might be needed, but Faneca was having none of it.

And Faneca was not the only one who thought that way, as Roethlisberger and Hartings were in complete agreement.

Alan Faneca, per The Inspirational Story of Pittsburgh Steelers Safety Troy Polamalu – Jim Wexell (editors note – explicits changed):

Russ came up to me and said, “Hey, you’ve got to go get some snaps with Ben.” And I’m like, [forget] you, man, I’m not going to get snaps with Ben.” He said, “No, just in case, man, you’ve got to go get some snaps.” I didn’t budge. I just stayed down there. Russ was on the headset and he turned around a few minutes later and he’s like, “Get your [freaking butt] out there.”

So, I go down there and I sit next to Ben on the bench, and Ben’s like, “What’s up, man?” I was never going down there to sit next to Ben during a game, so I’m like, “Chukky’s hurt.” And he said, “Chukky’s hurt?” And I said, “Yeah, he’s out of the game, so Russ wants us to get some snaps.”

And Ben instantly jumped up and was like, “Get the [freak] out of here, man.” I said, “Thank you. That was my same sentiment.”

Steelers Ben Roethlisberger Alan Faneca

Ben Roethlisberger and Alan Faneca holding the Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl XL. | AP Photo/Michael Conroy

There was no chance that in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, Faneca was going to risk taking his first live snaps from center.  They weren’t going to let that happen.  If it came down to it, Hartings was not going to leave the game as even if he was limited to playing on one leg, he would just snap the ball and Faneca promised he would “just take care of everything else.”

It was all on the line and with the superstitious nature of players, the acted of practicing snaps on the sideline meant you knew it was going to happen for real.  These guys had been through too much to let that scenario happen.

In the end, they pulled through and ate the clock up, but it’s a great take on believing in each other and rising to the occasion, which is what made that 2005 team so special.

#SteelerNation

PMP; CSM; CSPO and host of the PMI-TB Agile Podcast. A lifelong Steelers fan, I had the chance of a lifetime when I was able to celebrate Super Bowl XLIII with the team. I love talking everything Steelers from the old days to the new and look forward to working with the team to grow this platform to be the premier Steelers site.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Nathan Gorall

    May 29, 2022 at 3:42 pm

    thanks for the walk down memory lane Bill, this one and the troy story.

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