What had become known as the Mother's Day Minicamp, thanks to Plaxico Burress, developed into the Alan Faneca Watch over the weekend for the Steelers.
It ended quietly at noon yesterday with Faneca joking around with new coach Mike Tomlin on the field beforehand and leaving without a peep to return to his home in Louisiana.
Tomlin was even encouraged that his unhappy guard might return for some of the 14 voluntary practices that begin May 22.
"I don't know what that's going to buy me, but I'm hopeful," Tomlin said.
Not since Burress ripped coach Bill Cowher for holding a minicamp on Mother's Day weekend in 2004 and boycotted it has there been the kind of player discontent as there was with Faneca the past couple of days.
It rivaled two other notorious minicamp incidents: Shouldergate in 1978 when it was revealed the Steelers illegally wore pads in practice and were docked a third-round draft choice in 1979 because of it; and Swinging-gate in 2000 when a fight broke out between halfback Richard Huntley and linebacker Earl Holmes that touched off a chair-swinging brawl in the locker room during the final minicamp at Three Rivers Stadium.
Few players have said such harsh words about Steelers management as did Faneca, however, especially someone of his status -- a six-time Pro Bowl player, three-time co-captain and 2005 winner of The Chief Award, named after franchise founder Art Rooney and given annually to the player who exemplifies Rooney's spirit of cooperation with the media.
It's likely Faneca would not warm up to an award named after any of The Chief's descendants these days.
"They've made it crystal clear that they have no intentions of signing me this year and that's their decision upstairs," Faneca said.
He has said he would fly home after yesterday's one-hour practice session that ended at noon and not return until training camp starts July 23 -- if he's still a Steeler then. He has asked to be traded, but there has been no word that the Steelers have even tried.
The Steelers still have 14 more practices -- officially termed organized team activities -- the next month at their facility on the South Side. Unlike minicamp, however, those are not mandatory and players cannot be disciplined if they do not attend.
Faneca, after fervently ripping into Steelers management on the first day of camp, became upset at a comment someone made and skipped the first practice Saturday, only to return Saturday afternoon after a talk with his coach and finish up yesterday.
Tomlin said he was happy with Faneca and the rest of the team's final practice session. He is happy with his new team's progress.
"But not to confuse that with being satisfied," Tomlin said. "You have to put one foot in front of the other and keep marching. I like where we are right now. I think we had a good weekend. We're just going to continue to move forward, not going to ride the emotional roller coaster, like what has been done, got more to do and we have to have that mind-set as we move forward."
Asked about his interaction with Faneca early in the practice, Tomlin said, "It was a good day, it was a good day. That's a very personal issue for Alan. He has to deal with it. We'll do the best that we can to move forward, but it was a normal workday."
Tomlin said he has talked to management about Faneca's situation and said he would make suggestions whether he thought a player should be re-signed. He would not say what his recommendations were in Faneca's case.
"Since I've been here, the Rooneys have been very receptive to opinions and I've voiced mine. That's just how we do business. I'm glad to be part of it and it'll continue and we'll move forward.
"We've talked about the [Faneca] situation. Again, we'd like to leave those elements of negotiations private -- that is our policy. But we've had in-depth discussions and I'm sure
we'll continue to have them."
NOTE -- RB Kevan Barlow, who missed practices Saturday when his right ankle was injured that morning, returned for the final session.