LATROBE _ Alan Faneca's farewell tour is under way. "Knowing the end is inevitable, it does get you thinking about things," said the perennial all-star guard who plans on leaving the Steelers after this season and shop his value on the open market.
"It's the last time for this, it's the last time for that. Thinking that I have X number of home games left ... thing like that. I try to stay off that road. I try to stay focused. But yeah, people are starting to remind me that this is it. Someone asked me about this being my last camp at St. Vincent. Yeah, it is. I'll miss St. Vincent ... except for that hill over there."
Faneca then pointed to an uphill sidewalk leading from the practice fields to the locker room. It's a climb Faneca has made so many times over the past 10 years.
But because the Steelers haven't offered him what he deems a fair contract extension, this will be Faneca's last week in Latrobe.
That means that "Faneca's Fanatics" will be making their last trip to the Laurel Highlands as well.
"Faneca's Fanatics" are a group of Steeler fans involved with the Epilepsy Foundation of Western/Central Pennsylvania. Around 40 or so members of the group _ adults and children with epilepsy and their family and friends _ made the trip to St. Vincent to watch Monday's practice and talk with Faneca afterwards. They all wore yellow "Faneca's Fanatics" t-shirts.
Faneca, 30, has managed to play football at an All-Pro level even though he has epilepsy. His daughter, Anabelle Kathryn, also has the disease.
Two of the "Fanatics" who attended Monday's practice were Alex Stefura, a 17-year-year-old senior at Ellwood City High School, and her 23-year brother Anthony, who has epilepsy.
"I know what these families are going through," said Faneca, who signed autographs and posed for pictures with his "Fanatics."
"We all know how everyone loves the Steelers and loves to be out here, so this it's a chance to give them that opportunity and to have some fun."
He'll be well missed.