A six-time All-Pro and selected to play in nine Pro Bowls, in 2019, Faneca was a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the fourth consecutive year.
“What makes me most proud (of my career) is the way I did it, the way I approached it. The way I went about my business of being a professional,” said Faneca, a member of Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl XL Championship team. “To be there for four years now, just to be in the conversation is amazing enough when you talk about the guys that came before you.”
Soon after retiring in 2011, Faneca went to work on his body. To enhance his health, he decided that he’d be better off by not tipping the scales at 315 anymore.
“I drastically cut what I ate, about 1,800-2,000 calories a day,” Faneca said. “And I did about an hour of hard cardio six days a week. I didn’t want to do it slowly. I did it right away, so it was just like training for another season for me. I lost 100 (pounds) at first, and after a while I put a few back on. Right now I’m close to 230, so I’m about 75, 85 pounds less than what I played at.
“I feel great. The day I lost 30 pounds, I was playing with my daughter on the floor and when I got up, I didn’t make the old man groan and grunt, pushing to get up off the floor. I just stood up and I realized it. I was like, ‘Man, that’s something good right there.’”
What’s his advice to other former players who want to lose weight and realize “something good” themselves?
“You’ve just got to stick to it,” Faneca said. “I tell a lot of people that I feel like I cheated because I did it right after I was done playing. I was able to find that mindset and just put my head down and do it. So, I tell guys to try and find that mindset that we used when we were playing. Just approach it that way and be diligent.
“How many people quit a diet before they need to buy new clothes? Twenty pounds and you need new shirts. Stuff like that. So many people quit before they get to that point in all aspects of life I feel.”
The bio on Faneca’s Twitter account doesn’t boast of his gridiron accomplishments or the dedication he demonstrated to lose weight. No, it reads – I have epilepsy, but it does not define me, it is only a small part of who I am.
How has he used his platform to discuss epilepsy, a central nervous system (neurological) disorder, with others who may have it?
“I try to talk about it and engage especially young people. It’s hard enough to be a teenager or younger today, much less be dealing with something you’re ashamed of or feel you should be ashamed of, when you shouldn’t,” Faneca said.
“I just talk with them or share stories about funny things that happened to me. I walked to school in my pajamas one time. Stuff like that. It brings it down a little bit for them. And I try to let them know that they’re not in it alone. It’s not who you are, it’s just a part of you.”
Now making his home in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with his wife, Julie, and their children: Anabelle, 13; Burton, 7; and Penelope, 4; what’s the best thing about being Alan Faneca today?
“Just the ability to enjoy my family and be able to do it in a way that I’m able to,” he said. “I was very fortunate to do a job that was a game, and it set me up in a place where I can enjoy life and enjoy my family.”