Despite making it 2-for-2 when it comes to being a finalist – and a strong, deserving résumé – Alan Faneca was not among those who were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2017 class.
But in talking to him last week about the anticipation he was experiencing in awaiting to hear the Pro Football Writers of America vote, we broached the subject of him completing a marathon (in less than 4 hour, no less) two years ago.
As you can see in photos of the former 300-plus pound guard, the transformation
in the former Steeler’s body was stark. Faneca said that, contrary to what I’d assumed, distance running wasn’t some sort of mechanism for Faneca to replace the competitive void that was lacking since retiring from pro football.
“I always wanted to lose weight when I was done playing; I figured it was the healthiest choice for me to do,” Faneca said. “And the running thing kind of came after that; my wife ran a half marathon and she’d been trying to get me to run with her, and I would always tell her, ‘I’m good; I’m done with all my athletic stuff. I’ve played my career.’”
But, like any good husband, Faneca stayed involved in (and supportive of) his wife Julie’s endeavor and began to join her on runs.
“And then one day she wasn’t feeling good so I went out for a run by myself in this park in New Orleans – and instead of going right (like usual), I went left and started going all the way around the park,” Faneca said. “It turned in from like a 3 or 3.5-mile run to an almost 8-mile run.
“I had not done that and it was definitely me against the pavement, and that run definitely got the juices – the competitive juices – flowing. I started thinking about it literally on that run about maybe trying a half marathon myself and definitely stirred it back up and started getting me competitive again. I hadn’t really been competitive in anything, really, since I had retired.”
The New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in 2014 remains the only full marathon that Faneca has run, though he’s completed “a bunch” of half marathons as well as several trail races.
“I still enjoy it,” he said.
When Faneca ran his marathon, he was a little more than three years removed from being a professional football player. He’d played for the high-profile Steelers for 10 seasons and he also spent two years in media-frenzied New York (2008-09 with the Jets). By then, apparently, he’d settled back into “civilian” life because Faneca was taken aback by the attention drawn by a nine-time Pro Bowler (who once weighed something like 320 pounds) when he’d do something such as complete a marathon.
“I ran the marathon,” Faneca said, “and then I get to the end and all of a sudden there were actually reporters there waiting for me when I finished, and it kind of caught be off guard.”