(Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
Former Steelers guard Alan Faneca finally got selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame last month and he'll be formally inducted in Canton this August along with former Steelers "super scout" Bill Nunn as members of the Class of 2021.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Class of 2020 will be inducted this August as well and three former members of the Steelers organization are a part of that class in Troy Polamalu, Donnie Shell and Bill Cowher.
The Steelers' all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown receptions, Hines Ward, is considered to be a borderline Hall of Famer, but his former teammate Faneca thinks he deserves to be in Canton.
"My first answer to that is, I better, because he deserves it," Faneca said on "The Eye Test for Two" podcast via 93.7 The Fan. "You know he absolutely, 100 percent deserves it ... like you said, he doesn't have the numbers, per se, like other receivers are gonna have.
"But the things that he did, they might not add up and he might not have the stats, but the impact he had on the game when he went out there and played, you know? People tuned in to watch Hines Ward and to see what Hines Ward was doing. They came to games to watch Hines and see the big hits and the blocks and the big plays and the reverses and the passes, and they came to see Hines Ward. He deserves that gold jacket and I hope that one day he gets it, and he's not 60-70 years old when he gets it, because he deserves to get it and enjoy it."
Ward is in a log jam of wide receivers that have a case to be in the Hall of Fame, as Brandon Marshall, Torry Holt, Anquan Boldin, Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne and Steve Smith have similar numbers to him.
A case against Ward being a Hall of Famer is that he made just four Pro Bowls (2001-2004) and was never named first-team All-Pro in his career. He was named second-team All-Pro three times (2002-2004), however.
A case for Ward being a Hall of Famer is he's the Steelers' all-time leader in receptions (1,000), receiving yards (12,083) and touchdown receptions (85). He's also one of the best blocking wide receivers of all-time and has a "rule" named after him that prohibits a blindside block illegal if the block came from the blocker's helmet, forearm or shoulder and lands to the head or neck area of a defender.
He's also a two-time Super Bowl champion and was the MVP of Super Bowl XL, and had tremendous success in the postseason with 88 receptions for 1,181 yards (13.4 average) and 10 touchdowns in 18 playoff games.
Ward will have to wait a long time to make the Hall of Fame, if he ever does, but I believe like Faneca that he's definitely deserving to make it. You have to look at beyond just the stats when it comes to Ward. He played with great intensity, passion and left it all out on the field. Just ask Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed if Ward deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, as Ward had epic battles against the two Ravens throughout their careers. Lewis and Reed always had to have their heads on a swivel when playing against Ward, as No. 86 was always lurking to deliver a crushing block.
It might take until Ward is a Senior Candidate to be nominated to the Hall of Fame, hopefully it doesn't take that long. I mean, if Andre Reed is in the Hall, Ward should be too.
Ward's stats: 1,000 receptions for 12,083 yards and 85 touchdowns. Four-time Pro Bowler, two-time Super Bowl champion and MVP of Super Bowl XL.
Reed's stats: 951 receptions for 13,198 yards and 87 touchdowns. Seven-time Pro Bowler.
Ward's stats in 18 playoff games: 88 receptions for 1,181 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Reed's stats in 21 playoff games: 85 receptions 1,229 yards and nine touchdowns.
It's not outrageous to think that Ward belongs in the Hall of Fame. There's definitely a case.