Alan Faneca, Troy Polamalu and Hines Ward were selected for ESPN’s 50 future Hall of Famers. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was left off the list.
23. Alan Faneca: Judging by the current contract impasse, the Steelers apparently don’t think Faneca is bound for Canton. However, he has been named to the past six Pro Bowls and has been one of the most consistent guards in the game — missing just two games since being drafted in the first round in 1998. Did we mention he already has a Super Bowl ring? Faneca has said he will play out his contract in Pittsburgh this season and move on to a new team in 2008. Considering that five guards without a single Pro Bowl appearance among them signed contracts worth about $7 million annually this offseason, Faneca should command a significant pact next year.
32. Troy Polamalu: There are good reasons Pittsburgh used the 16th overall pick in the 2003 draft on Polamalu. He has tremendous instincts and the speed to cover large chunks of the field. Polamalu has been named to the Pro Bowl three times in his first four seasons and he was a key defensive component of Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl XL championship season. Polamalu was the only safety identified in the first round of the ’03 draft, but seven safeties have been selected in the first round of the past two drafts combined, as Polamalu and Ed Reed have emerged into stars.
43. Hines Ward: Who will go down as the most prolific receiver in Steelers history? Here’s a hint: it’s neither John Stallworth nor Lynn Swann, both celebrated Hall of Famers. It’s Ward, who already holds the franchise mark for career receptions (648) and is in line to pass Stallworth as the team’s all-time receiving yardage leader in 2007. Although Ward’s statistics have fallen off a bit the past two seasons (in part because of Pittsburgh’s run-heavy offense), his chances for enshrinement are enhanced by an impressive postseason r√©sum√© (57 catches, 761 yards and eight touchdowns) that includes a Super Bowl MVP award.
Big names, not big enough games
1. Ben Roethlisberger: At first glance, it might seem preposterous to slam the Hall door in Big Ben’s face so soon. But upon closer inspection, it makes sense. Roethlisberger proved to be an effective game manager in his first two pro seasons, and he has a Super Bowl ring to show for it. But his Super Bowl performance (9-for-21 with two picks) was dreadful, and then he regressed in 2006. Now the Steelers are losing personnel from their championship team, and nothing to this point suggests that Roethlisberger can carry an undermanned team on his shoulders to playoff success. *courtesy of Espn*