The Pittsburgh Steelers were a dominant team during the 1970s. During that time, they won multiple Super Bowl titles. Donnie Shell was a member of those Steelers teams that had a lot of success. Shell spent his entire career in Pittsburgh and accomplished a lot playing for the Steelers.
His performance allowed him to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was one of the best safeties to play for the Steelers.
Shell was a standout in college before entering the NFL
Shell is a native of South Carolina, and he attended South Carolina State for college. He started as a linebacker before moving to the safety position. During his time at South Carolina State, he put together an impressive career. During his senior season in 1973, he had 77 tackles and eight interceptions. That season he was named to the American Football Coaches Association All-American team. He also was a First-Team All-MEAC selection his senior year.
After an impressive college career, Shell went into the 1974 NFL draft looking to hear his name called by a team. But, that did not happen. Even though a team did not draft him, Shell did not give up on his dream of playing in the NFL. The Steelers signed him as an undrafted free agent. In an article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Shell talked about how he cherished the Steelers’ opportunity.
“I just wanted an opportunity and Pittsburgh was a team that fit for me. They gave me a fair chance, I worked hard and made the team,” said Shell. Shell took advantage of the opportunity he got and he made the most of it.
Shell had a remarkable career in Pittsburgh
In his first season with the Steelers, they won the Super Bowl during the 1984 season. As an undrafted free agent, Shell became a Super Bowl champion in his rookie year. It doesn’t get much better than that. Throughout his career, Shell became an elite defender for the Steelers, and he made his presence known throughout the NFL.
The next season the Steelers won their second consecutive Super Bowl. In two years of playing in the NFL, Shell already had two Super Bowl titles under his belt. He went on to win a total of four Super Bowls with the Steelers, and he was a five-time Pro Bowl selection. Shell was also a four-time All-Pro selection as well. He finished his career in Pittsburgh with 51 interceptions with 490 interception yards and two touchdowns.
Shell was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2020
After an impressive career in Pittsburgh, Shell was honored in a big way. He was an inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2020. That is a tremendous accomplishment, and not too many people can say that they are in the Hall of Fame. During his career, Shell worked hard to become a dominant player, especially since he was an undrafted free agent.
He had to show that he belonged in the NFL, and he did just that. From 1974 to 1987, Shell suited up in that black and gold and represented the city of Pittsburgh. After his career finished, he moved back to South Carolina and was the Carolina Panthers Director of Player Development from 1994 to 2009.
Shell is an example of a former player who had to fight his way to the NFL. He didn’t have the luxury of hearing his name called during the draft. Shell proved himself, and look where it got him. A spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.