Sunday, February 07, 2016

Alan Faneca 'redefined' the guard position, but falls short of HOF

Jeremy FowlerESPN Staff WriterFebruary 6, 2016

On an off week, Alan Faneca runs about 20 miles. If he’s training for half-marathons, which is fairly often, he logs at least 30.
His conditioning has made a huge impact in his post-NFL days, and the leaner Faneca was on hand Saturday in San Francisco as the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee revealed its inductees. But Faneca didn't make it in his first year of eligibility.
Faneca played 13 years, resulting in six All-Pro seasons at guard. Faneca's physical transformation has been almost as impressive -- shedding 100 pounds from his 320-pound playing frame since leaving the league in 2010.
When Faneca lost his first 30, he noticed he stopped the old-man grunting when getting up from the floor after a play session with his daughter.
Now, he's a lean 6-foot-5, 220 pounds. He’s, almost literally, two-thirds the man who opened holes for Jerome Bettis in Pittsburgh. He wanted a healthy post-football lifestyle with minimal joint pain.
Here’s how he did it: oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, chicken with all other meals, low carbs, lots of vegetables, no alcohol -- save one day a week -- and 100-calorie snacks between meals to sustain metabolism.
“It’s been tremendous,” Faneca told via phone before packing up to go to San Francisco. “I knew I was onto something good. It has helped my body, my knees out. It’s definitely taken some of the stress out of my body. I’m cheating the doctors before I start to need bionic parts.”
Faneca has fielded calls from several former offensive linemen from his pro or college days asking for weight-loss tips. He’s happy to oblige.
Faneca played his best years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who selected him in the first round of the 1998 draft and watched him move defenders for 10 seasons. He played his last years with the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals.
He worked to be the consummate teammate, a positive locker-room guy who never turned down the Pro Bowl all nine times. He made the 2000s all-decade first team.
But it wasn't enough for HOF status. Most of the nearly 20 guards in the Hall needed more than one cycle for entrance. Kansas City Chiefs great Will Shields, an all-decade second-teamer, was eligible for four years before his 2015 induction.
Former coach Bill Cowher was vouching for his guy, telling that Faneca basically “redefined” the guard position by his versatility to block “at the point of attack, but also block in space.” Faneca was the catalyst for Willie Parker’s 75-yard score in Super Bowl XL. The right side was open all the way.
When it comes to the week leading up to the voting, though, Faneca was doing less lobbying and more savoring of the moment.
“It’s special enough to be here on this short list,” Faneca said before the results were known. “I haven’t really thought about [the outcome]. You feel you put your best foot forward on the playing field; now it’s an awkward feeling knowing how people officially felt about your playing career. But it’s an honor being a first-time guy making the short list.”
Faneca never came up short, on or off the field.

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