NFL

Alan Faneca Overcame Seizures in High School to Become a Pro Football Hall of Fame Finalist

The time could soon arrive where Pittsburgh Steelers great Alan Faneca enters the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Long before he wore a Pittsburgh Steelers uniform and helped keep quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on his feet, Faneca had several health problems on his plate. Faneca dealt with seizures while growing up in Texas.

This is Faneca’s story, from overcoming seizures to becoming one of the top offensive linemen in recent NFL history.

Alan Faneca starred for the Pittsburgh Steelers

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Offensive linemen usually never get their dues, so Alan Faneca shouldn’t feel too bad about being underappreciated outside of Pittsburgh.

Faneca, the 26th overall selection in a loaded 1998 NFL draft which also included Charles Woodson and Peyton Manning, had an excellent 13-season career.

Faneca made nine straight Pro Bowls from 2001-09 and earned first-team All-Pro honors in six of those years. The former All-American guard and LSU standout also appeared on the All-Pro second team in 2003 and 2008.

Faneca was the Steelers’ starting left guard in Super Bowl 40, a 21-10 victory over Matt Hasselbeck and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

After playing the 2008 and 2009 seasons on the New York Jets and blocking for future actor Thomas Jones, Faneca closed his career with the Arizona Cardinals in 2010.

Faneca overcame seizures and epilepsy growing up

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Alan Faneca fought through personal health issues just to play college football, let alone reach the NFL.

A doctor diagnosed Faneca with epilepsy, a neurological condition, at age 13. The doctor allowed Faneca to play football as long as he mentioned his health and took regular medication.

Faneca continued having seizures until he received the proper dosage while in high school.

In a 2006 interview with brainandlife.org, Faneca reflected on his health history and how it didn’t stop him from achieving his dreams.

“I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish. And I think of myself as a lucky one, because I’m in a position where I can talk about this and help kids and be a role model to show what can be done out there if you stay in a positive state of mind.”

Even after retiring from the NFL, Faneca has continued speaking out against the stigma that comes with seizures and epilepsy.

Alan Faneca is a Hall of Fame finalist again

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Over 30 years after a doctor diagnosed him with epilepsy, Alan Faneca is up for the Pro Football Hall of Fame once again.

Faneca is in his sixth year as a finalist, but he has had to deal with numerous high-profile players who were also on the ballot. Calvin Johnson, Peyton Manning, and Charles Woodson are among the notable first-year players in 2021.

Faneca has at least been a finalist every year that he has been on the ballot. His time will eventually come, especially when power hitters like Manning and Woodson get their chance.

Two notable offensive linemen from Faneca’s era have been inducted in the last two classes. Steve Hutchinson, a terrific guard for the Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, is part of the 2020 class who will be honored this coming summer.

Longtime Jets center Kevin Mawae entered the Hall in 2019.

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