http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07320...?cmpid=HBEHTML

His teammates, especially the ones on the offensive line, swear there is nothing different about guard Alan Faneca, aside from a Bunyan-esque beard and red hair that flows to his shoulders.


They say his emotional rallying cry in the huddle on the winning touchdown drive against the Cleveland Browns, while conceding it was a little out of character, was not anything new.

Or that his post-touchdown celebrations with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger are a sign that Faneca, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, is savoring what appear to be his final days with the Steelers.

"To me, it wasn't too far off from how he normally is on game day, especially at crucial parts of the game," said left tackle Marvel Smith, who plays next to Faneca on the offensive line.



"He's been the same guy I've played with the last two years," said tight end Heath Miller. "He's going to give 100 percent no matter what."

"He was doing what a good leader does," said right tackle Willie Colon. "Alan has been doing it for a while."

Not many offensive linemen have been doing it as well for so long as Faneca, even for a franchise that boasts two of the greatest centers in NFL history -- Hall of Famer Mike Webster and seven-time Pro Bowl selection Dermontti Dawson.

He is in the middle of his 10th season with the Steelers, playing at the same level he always has, remaining the most important component in the offensive line that helps fuel the National Football League's No. 2 rushing attack.

Faneca, though, is also in the final year of a contract that will pay him $4,375,000, including a $1 million roster bonus, in 2007. And there appears to be no hope for renewal in sight -- a prognosis that has existed almost from the time Faneca had an uncharacteristic public spat with the organization in minicamp.

Nonetheless, Faneca said he has not approached this season any differently than the others, nor has he embraced what is happening on the field more fervently than past seasons. A possible exception is being humbled by his selection to the Steelers' 75th anniversary team, one of four current Steelers to be named to the all-time team.

"I don't think about it in that way," Faneca said. "It's a more generalized way -- that I've been here 10 years -- in that manner. I don't think anything else makes it mean any more or any less."

But, his teammates wouldn't blame him if he did.

"How can you not," Colon said. "He's only human. If you know it's your last time doing something ... it's what you want to make of it. He realizes it's out of his hands, all you can do is go out there and play his hardest."

Smith, who has been a starter since 2000, said he has had some small discussions with Faneca, 30, about his future with the organization, but it wasn't a "real important, sit-down conversation."

Added Smith: "To me, it's like business as usual. I don't see him sitting back, taking everything in, like it's the last time it's going to happen."

Nonetheless, Faneca stepped out of character when he came into the huddle and exhorted his teammates for what proved to be the winning touchdown drive in the 31-28 comeback victory against the Browns. According to guard Kendall Simmons, Faneca yelled: "You got to get it in [the end zone]. It's time to go. No matter who it is, we got to get it in and win this game."

"It put a little bit more fire in us," said Miller, who caught the winning 2-yard touchdown pass. "I don't think it's typically his demeanor, but, when something needs to be said, he'll step up and say it. He's the type of guy who has respect in this locker room. Everyone is going to listen when he says something because they know it's important."

Faneca said he did not recall exactly what he said, but he spoke up in the huddle because the offense had to go back on the field sooner than expected because of Joshua Cribbs' 100-yard kick return for touchdown. He said the offense was still tired from the previous drive that culminated with Roethlisberger's 30-yard touchdown run.

"It's a situation where we went down and scored, we had this big drive to get back in it, and they came back and scored a touchdown -- it kind of deflates you a little bit," Faneca said. "All of a sudden, you have to get back out there real fast. We got cut short on our break a little bit, and it deflates you a little. You have to get amped up to get back out there."
Faneca is still a rock on the OL and the team respects him for what he's done in his career and how he's been dedicated to the team over the years. At this point barring a miracle turnaround he'll be gone after this year and even if he is he'll be remembered as one of the best Steelers lineman in team history.