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Steelers Spotlight: Donnie Shell

Steelers Spotlight: Donnie Shell

If you’re a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, you’ve probably heard about the defensive line in the 1970s that was nicknamed the “Steel Curtain.” Eight players on this lineup were selected for the Pro Bowl, and Donnie Shell was one of them. Shell’s career was a long and exciting one, but it began before he even entered the NFL.

Shell was first recognized as a player with great potential when he played for the Whitmire High School football team in South Carolina. In his senior season, the team did not allow their opponents to score a single touchdown. Shell moved on to South Carolina State University, where he played with multiple future Hall of Fame players. Shell would later be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1998 due to his fantastic play, All-American nomination, and All-Conference honors. After college, Shell became a free agent and was signed undrafted by the Steelers. He would go on to play his entire career in Pittsburgh and become one of the franchise’s most beloved players.

Originally, Shell had played the position of linebacker all of his life. When the Steelers signed him, however, he became a strong safety. Shell’s superior closing speed and eagerness to launch himself into players twice his size earned him this position and the nickname of “The Torpedo.” He became an essential player on the defensive lineup and would help win the team four Super Bowl titles in the 1970s. Many people claim that the “Steel Curtain” was one of the best lineups of all time. Shell was named to the Pro Bowl five times, had four All-Pro selections, and was named the Steelers team MVP in 1980. He played in 201 games over 13 seasons with the Steelers and made 51 interceptions at the time of his retirement. Clearly, Shell had an illustrious career.

Shell’s time in the NFL was legendary. He was a strong player, leader, and mentor. After his retirement, Shell continued to stay involved in the league as much as he could. Shell now serves as the Director of Spiritual Life at Johnson C. Smith University in North Carolina. Obviously, his accomplishments on the field make him one of the greatest players in Steelers’ history.


Be sure to grab a ticket to our next public signing on November 9th if you want to see Donnie Shell! 

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