Steelers’ Alan Faneca on his journey to the Corridor of Fame and the combat towards epilepsy: “It is so surreal”

Alan Faneca’s name was burned into the walls of football history when he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame earlier this month. But for the long-time guard of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the golden jacket symbolizes more than just the symbol of the legends.

Faneca, 44, was eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame in his sixth year in what he felt like “the end of a trip” in an interview with Fox News over the weekend.


“There are so many times that you’re out there, you run, you’re in the heat and you train and you think, ‘Can I do it?'” He said. “Two-day practice from junior high to high school to college and the NFL. It’s like a collection of everything that comes together at once – you strive to be the best forever and ever – and all of a sudden you’re in the room and you’re one of the best. It’s so surreal. ”

Left to right, Tom Flores, Charles Woodson, Alan Faneca, Calvin Johnson, John Lynch and Drew Pearson pose with their busts during the induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Sunday, August 8, 2021, in Canton, Ohio. Peyton Manning, whose bust is in the center, was not present. (AP Photo / Ron Schwane, Pool)

Faneca was a first-round draft pick from LSU and played most of his career in Pittsburgh, where he was called up to six Pro Bowls and was a key component in the Steelers’ 2005 Super Bowl win over the Seattle Seahawks. He would earn two more Pro Bowl selections with the New York Jets before retiring with the Arizona Cardinals in 2011.

Faneca struggled to describe the induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio on August 8th – an experience that made Peyton Manning hold back tears.

“It’s absolutely great to go in, to be around these guys – to be one of those guys – and to share that with my family and friends and with everyone who helped me on this trip because nobody gets there alone” said Faneca.


Few players will ever share the honor that Faneca receives. In fact, there have only been 353 members since the first class was introduced in 1963, but the journey has been particularly arduous for Faneca.

“Fifteen was a transformative year for me,” Faneca recalled in his speech. “My dream of playing in the NFL was awakened and that was when I was diagnosed with epilepsy. I knew vividly that nothing would stop me from fulfilling that dream.”

He continued, “I’ve always said and spoken to myself that epilepsy is part of me, but it doesn’t define me. We are responsible for our fate. I never want challenges to define us. We have to define ourselves. ” Whatever the challenge in life, whether or not we have a disability, my message is always to maintain an integral commitment, not to let anything stop us from fulfilling our vision. We all get down in life, but that’s how we come up with matters. “

Faneca echoed that sentiment in his interview with Fox News, adding that the lowest points in his career were the most influential.

“Those are moments when you have to get up off the ground.”


His resilience made him a better footballer – and a better father. Faneca says that one of his daughters also has a rare form of epilepsy and that his experience with the disease helped him better understand her struggles.

“Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, putting your body first, knowing when to say, when to withdraw, when to know how you are feeling – and what to do when you are not feeling quite right” , he called. “It is difficult to see that your own daughter as a parent has to learn to walk and ride a bike several times.”

Faneca said he looks forward to using his Hall of Fame platform to raise more awareness about the disease. He recently teamed up with SK Life Science for their STEPS Toward Zero campaign.

“When I found out what it was all about, educating and empowering the epilepsy community and helping them get their doctors back on board – it was a breeze for me,” he said.

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