Alan Faneca swears it was luck of the draw (and perhaps the drawer) that led him to sport a dark green Polo long-sleeved top on his first day of work as a newly minted Jet.
"Pure coincidence," he said with his easy smile. "I got dressed in the dark this morning."
Faneca made the rounds today as more light was shed on owner Woody Johnson's latest proactive move at the start of the unrestricted free agency signing period. Even though the former Pittsburgh All-Pro left guard's agreement to a deal with the Jets was rumored for a while, it wasn't official until today when the 6'5", 307-pounder passed his physical and signed his contract.
And the news release didn't go up on newyorkjets.com until Faneca began his conference call with Jets beat reporters shortly after 1:30 this afternoon.
One thing that became clear during the call was that Faneca, courted hard also by San Francisco and St. Louis, was that he's not one to be scared off by a challenge or two.
"I think every team goes in feeling that way every year," he replied when asked about the Jets' immediate hopes and plans coming off 4-12. "Having the season they had last year, there's a definite sense of urgency to turn things around. I think the attitude's right in the building. Making changes and being aggressive in the off-season only helps."
And as a question about head coach Eric Mangini's tough practice regimen was asked, Faneca flashed that smile again.
"I had heard," he said. "I'm not the kind of guy that's going to make a decision to run from a difficult situation. If anything, it swayed me in this direction, to know that the work ethic was in place to go win games."
Winning games is something Faneca is very familiar with, playing in them, ditto. He's missed only two games of the 171 (including playoffs) he could have played in since the Steelers took him 26th overall in the 1998 draft, and he brings a streak of 107 consecutive starts (and that including a victory in Super Bowl XL) into 2008.
And since 2001, the Steelers' record in the 112 games he played in (all starts) is a crisp 69-42-1 (.621 winning percentage).
How much of that, one questioner wanted to know, can be expected to rub off on his expected next-door neighbors on the O-line, LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson and C Nick Mangold?
"I've got 10 years of experience under my belt," he said. "I can help these guys, I can help the entire unit in subtle ways. I can help put that experience to use."
Faneca said he would describe himself as an NFL player "as a thinking man. I guess. I have good vision of the field. And working well in space is probably another quality of mine that helps me out a lot and saves me a lot. Those two things are probably my biggest assets."
Another asset that many Green & White fans may not know about is Faneca's versatility. He made one of his seven Pro Bowls in 2003 at guard even though he made half his starts that season at left tackle due to an injury to another Steeler.
"It's great to see a player like that recognized, not just by our team but by his peers and people around the league," then-coach Bill Cowher told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "You can put him anywhere."
Mangini and his coaching staff — which includes the recently hired O-line guru Bill Callahan — will say the same thing. But for the coming weeks and months till minicamps, OTAs and training camp, whether he's at guard, tackle or center, they'll just admire how Faneca looks in green.