Alan Faneca, the American former professional football player who was a part of the National Football League for 13 years, was always a goal-oriented person, even if he didn’t know it.



During his playing days, he would write down game plans and tactics, and notes in his notepad before each game and at the start of the season. Then, he would make calculations about the things that he needed to focus on and the things he needed to avoid. 

During his rookie years as a guard for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Faneca went to Canton, Ohio, along with his team for the annual NFL Hall of Fame preseason game. While Faneca was left amazed with his dreams when he entered the hall, his dreams will finally come alive when his bust will be enshrined at the same hall this weekend.  

Alan Faneca
Image Source: Sports Illustrated

Melanie Collins

“It was always a goal,” Faneca told in an interview with a local radio station. “But I had several goals before that I had to attain. It was always something off in the distance that, you know, shoot for the stars and see where you land.”

“I landed in the stars. It’s pretty amazing.”, said Faneca being very pleased. 

What is more amazing is, Faneca contemplated giving up football when he was a teenager, as he doubted that he was not going to make it. 


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Born in New Orleans in 1976, Faneca played football for four years at his high school before his family moved to Rosenberg, Texas. There he went on to finish his prep career at Lamar Consolidated High School. At the young age of 15, Alan Faneca was diagnosed with epilepsy, putting his footballing future in doubt.

“It was Christmas eve of my freshman year in high school,” Faneca said. “We were at my great grandmother’s house for a big family event. I didn’t know it was a seizure. I was wandering around the house crying, not knowing what happened. Then I had another and another.”

Alan Faneca
Image Source: Pittsburgh Steelers

After months of tests and hospital visits, his doctor prescribed medication that controlled the onset of seizures and allowed him to keep playing the sport that he so loved.

“He said it so fast that I could keep playing, I asked him again,”, said Faneca explaining that he couldn’t believe his ears when his doctor told him the good news. “I said, ‘Doc, you do know what football is, right?’



Some years later, Faneca had turned himself into an exciting prospect, named the Greater Houston Offensive Player of the Year by the Houston Touchdown Club in 1993; he signed with LSU in 1994 and was there waiting for coach Gerry DiNardo to arrive at the end of his redshirt season. DiNardo was quick to recognize the talent Faneca possessed and knew that he would go on to become one of the great players in time if properly coached.  

“He had great feet, as they say,” said DiNardo. “He learned to play the game with great body position. Hips lower than his shoulders, hitting on the rise. The technical things he was really good at.”

“As a teammate goes, he was one of most well-liked guys. Very popular. Had a lot of close friends.”, added DiNardo, praising Faneca and his sportsmanship.


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Faneca went on to earn the All-SEC and All-American honors as a junior and senior and was also an Outland Trophy finalist his final year. Facing a huge dilemma as to whether to finish college or focus on football, Faneca took the monumental decision of forgoing his senior season with the college and went pro a year early than he was supposed to. 

Alan Faneca
Image Source: Canton Repository

Faneca won one title with the Steelers in Super Bowl XL in the 2005 season, with his team securing a  21-10 win over the Seattle Seahawks.

In 13 seasons, Faneca started 201 of 206 career games and is one of the only five guards in NFL history to earn six All-Pro honors. 

His former coach Bill Cowher called Alan Faneca the heart and soul of Pittsburgh’s defensive line.

Faneca went on to play in various teams in the NFL, including the Arizona Cardinals, and played for two years with the New York Jets. After deciding to retire in 2010, Faneca decided to focus on his fitness and took up running. 



The achiever only performed as we expect of him, but drastically slimming down that leaves everyone’s jaws dropped.  Within three years of retirement, Faneca lost more than 100 pounds from his playing weight of 322 lbs and participated and completed a marathon.



The Faneca family moved to Virginia Beach, which also happens to be the hometown of Alan’s wife, Julie Faneca. Having met in the freshman year at LSU, the couple has two beautiful children, Bourton and Annabelle. 

Faneca eventually shifted to coaching football like his predecessors and spent two years as an assistant coach at The Potomac School in McLean, Virginia. After that, he spent two more seasons coaching offensive linemen at the Cox High School in Virginia Beach, where he lives happily with his family now. 

Last May, Alan Faneca was named the head coach at Cox, a challenge that Alan is sure to come out on top of.  



During his fall of fame enshrinement ceremony, he invited his coach DiNardo to attend as one of his guests alongside his family.  

“That made me feel really good,” DiNardo said. “You never know how former players feel about you. I just think the world of him.”

Alan Faneca is an inspiration to millions of youth out there that the only thing that can stop you from achieving your dreams is you. 


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