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Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Alan Faneca going out the right way

By Mike Sando

Alan Faneca is retiring as the starting left guard for an offensive line coached by Hall of Famer Russ Grimm.

There are worse ways to go out.

Faneca
Faneca, 34, started all 16 regular-season games over his final nine seasons, including in 2010, his lone season with the Arizona Cardinals.

The lockout will prevent the Cardinals and Faneca's previous teams, the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers, from making a fuss over his announcement. Isn't that how every self-respecting offensive lineman would want it?

The time will come for Faneca, a nine-time Pro Bowl choice, to receive his due. He'll be a strong candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame when eligible five years from now. Faneca was exceedingly durable, dependable and skilled over the course of his career.

A statement from Faneca laid out his thoughts as follows:
"After a lot of thought, I am announcing my retirement from professional football. Playing in the NFL has been a childhood dream come true. Thirteen years later, I have decided that it is time to move on. From the dog days of training camp to winning a Super Bowl, the memories are endless. The greatest memory that I will leave the game with is all of the lifelong friendships I have made.

"I want to specifically thank the Steelers, Jets and Cardinals. Each and every teammate, coach and front office employee has made a lasting impact on my life. It was a pleasure playing for first-class organizations who surrounded me with incredibly dedicated individuals. I want to thank each of the beat writers that covered me throughout my career. These guys work hard and always treated me with respect. I want to also thank the fans. The roar of the crowd kept me going more than the fans will ever know.

"It is time to move on to the next chapter in my life. I can't wait to spend more time with my family. Playing in this league for as long as I did takes sacrifice, not only by me, but by each of them. I want to thank Julie, Annabelle and Burton for allowing me to fulfill all of my boyhood dreams. I couldn't have done it without you."

The Cardinals knew Faneca was leaning toward retirement. They continued to bypass offensive linemen in the draft, joining the Tennessee Titans as the only teams that have not selected one in the first three rounds of the past four drafts.

Rex Hadnot and Jeremy Bridges provide veteran depth, but center Lyle Sendlein and right guard Deuce Lutui do not have contracts for 2011.

The NFL will miss Faneca. The Cardinals might, too.