Former NFL football star Alan Faneca settles into the “Nest”

Coach Alan Faneca, a former National Football League (NFL) player and new inductee into the football Hall of Fame, is now in his second year as one of the school’s football coaches.

Faneca, who was drafted from LSU in the 1998 NFL draft, spent the majority of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, as well as time spent playing for the Cardinals and Jets. Coach Faneca is a Super Bowl champion,  six  time first team All Pro, and a nine time Pro Bowler.

Now though, the Falcon football team is lucky enough to have Faneca on the sideline.

Q: When did you start playing football? Did you pick it up in middle to high school, or did you always know you wanted to play?

A: “I was 8, playing soccer, and my dad pointed over to the football field and that’s where he said I belong. That is where I picked up football and continued to play, eventually making it my career later on in life.”

Q: Is football a tradition in your family, or were you the first to play?

A: “My dad played, but he did not take it as seriously as I did. He definitely got me into the game, however I was the first one to take it much more seriously.”

Q: When did you know that you were good enough to play in college?

A: “It was my junior year, and I put together a tape to send to coaches. I had a bunch of VHS tapes around the house of my football games in high school, so I put them together, eventually to get into contact with coaches. This is when I started to get interest from different schools, and finally got the opportunity to play at the next level. I had originally committed to Alabama, but everyone thought that I would go to Louisiana State University (LSU), I finally was sitting in my room one day and realized that LSU was the better option for me, growing up there and spending most of my youth there as well.”

Q: How were your years as a student athlete at LSU?

A: “It was great. As a student I was able to live with all of my best friends in the same place, and I built many friendships from there as well. As an athlete it was a blessing. At such a young age, I was able to play the sport I love in front of 80,000 people. It was crazy at times, but some of the best experiences of my life.”

Q: You were drafted by the Steelers, how did the change of location and competition affect you as a player?

A: “I was not really familiar with Pittsburgh at the time I was drafted. I could find it on a map and everything, but it was not a big city or anything. Once I got to that level I realized that only the best of the best were on the field. At LSU, only two or three people would get drafted and play at the next level, but once you get to the NFL, everyone is on the most dominant level possible. Realizing this, I knew that I had to work much harder to compete with the top level of competition in the league.”

Q: What would you say are the best and hardest parts of playing in the NFL?

A: “The best part is definitely being able to play the sport I love for a living. I was playing at the highest level possible, realizing that all my hard work had paid off. However, the hardest part was the toll that it took on your body.. After your years in the league, you can finally feel the wear and tear from all the years. I was in Arizona, playing in my last year, and I finally knew that it was time.”

Q: What was your favorite memory as a player?

A: “Definitely winning the super bowl. All of the years from when I was 8 playing for the local chargers had finally paid off. Then there was also the entrance into games. My first couple years in Pittsburgh we were not that good. But my fourth year, we made it to the playoffs for a home game. During the entrance and when the announcers were calling out the offense, it was surreal. The stadium was loud as ever, and running out to all of those people was one of the most amazing feelings.”

Q: How did you end up at the school?

A: “Well my wife, Julie, went to First Colonial High School and graduated in 1994. She had lived here before we met. We used to live in Shadowlawn, and during some years of my career we would come here in the summer and spend time with her family and friends. Once I retired, we stayed here. Dr. Kelly actually got in touch with someone I knew. He told me that a coaching job was open at Cox as the offensive line coach, and I took the opportunity.”

Q: After your years of playing and now being a coach, how does this remind you of your past as a player?

A: “Well now, seeing the game is much different. When I was younger, I was able to play the game with my teammates and not have to teach it to the others. However, playing the game today, I have to learn the offensive schemes, prepare for what the other team has in store, and then teach it to the players.” 

 

 

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