This summer, a revised edition with new chapters and updated stats, dedicated to the Black and Gold book will be coming out in stores entitled “100 Things Every Steelers Fan Should Know Before They Die.”
The book, which is being published by Triumph Books, will be available in all major book stores and will retail for $14.95. It is currently available for pre-order through Amazon and Borders, and is set to arrive in stores early September.
Through the reminder of the summer, we’ll give Steelers Gab readers a sneak peek of some chapters of the book. Today we highlight Chapter 44 – Donnie Shell.
While everyone loves to remember the glory days of the Steel Curtain, people tend to forget just how good some of the other players behind that front four really were. One of those classic players that could be counted on week in and week out as a rock of the secondary was strong safety Donnie Shell.
The five-time Pro Bowler was a big hitter who had a nose for the ball, and when he retired in 1987, his 51 career picks made him the NFL career leader in interceptions for a strong safety.
The Steelers knew how important Shell was to them, as he was rewarded for his stellar NFL career with a number of honors once it ended. He was selected to the Steelers’ All-Time Team, as well as to the NFL Silver Anniversary Super Bowl Team, and the Steelers’ 75th Anniversary Team.
Shell has been up for induction into the Pro Football Hall for Fame a number of times, making it as a finalist in 2001, but has not been able to crack into the Hall. With so many 1970s Steelers already there, some critics may feel adding Shell would be overkill.
Shell’s life revolved around sports since he was young. Growing up in Whitmire, South Carolina, he played on state championship teams in baseball (as a left-handed pitcher) and basketball, ran track, and made a postseason football all-star game.
He was offered a full scholarship to South Carolina State, half for football and half for baseball. He played linebacker and guard in high school and, once he got to South Carolina State, was convinced to give the safety position a shot.
He did to great success, earning All-America and all-conference honors. To think that Shell entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 1974 is mind-boggling. It’s also a testament to the Steelers’ scouts at the time, who took a chance on him. The gamble clearly paid off.