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If Kenny Easley Belongs In Canton, So Too Does Donnie Shell

The 2017 Hall of Fame Class was announced Saturday night and former Seattle Seahawks safety Kenny Easley was unsurprisingly elected after being nominated by the veteran committee. While I don’t want to take anything away from Easley’s great honor, I do question why he’s now been elected to Canton ahead of former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Donnie Shell.

Safeties, and all defensive backs for that matter, have a very tough road when it comes to them making it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I mean, just look at the list below which now includes Easley. Most of the defensive backs already enshrined in Canton played the cornerback position. Why is that?

Below, I have compiled all of the main stats for all of the defensive backs now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame along with Shell’s and as you can clearly see, his stack up to others. Is Shell penalized because of the fact that he was a member of so many great defenses? It certainly appears that way.

When you look at the NFL’s all-time career interception leaders you’ll see that only 31 players have registered more than Shell did. With that noted, very few players ahead of Shell on that list actually played the safety position for either all, or most of their NFL careers.

It’s really too bad that we don’t have the full game play-by-play listing of yesteryear in order for us to look at some other key stats such as successful tackles and the sorts as it would be interesting to compare the numbers of the players already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame to others who aren’t.

In short, ever since Shell was a Hall of Fame finalists in 2002, he seems to have been forgotten about.

“I don’t really think about it,” Shell said several months ago during a Talk of Fame Network broadcast. “It’s out of my hands. It’s up to the selection committee to look back at an individual player’s body of work and see if they deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.”

Well, now that Easley has been elected, hopefully the veteran committee will once again reconsider Shell. Face it, f Easley’s accomplishments were good enough during his short NFL career to get him into Canton, Shell’s should be as well.

HALL OF FAME DEFENSIVE BACKS + SHELL GAMES INTS TDS PRO BOWLS ALL PROS CHAMPION
Herb Adderley (CB) 1961-1972 164 48 7 5 4 8
Lem Barney (CB) 1967-1977 140 56 7 7 2 0
Mel Blount (CB) 1970-1983 200 57 2 5 2 4
Willie Brown (CB) 1963-1978 204 54 2 9 5 1
Jack Butler (CB) 1951-59 103 52 4 4 3 0
Jack Christiansen (S) 1951-1958 89 46 3 5 6 3
Darrell Green (CB) 1983-2002 295 54 6 7 1 2
Mike Haynes (CB) 1976-1989 177 46 2 9 2 1
Ken Houston (S) 1967-1980 196 49 9 12 2 0
Jimmy Johnson (CB) 1961-1976 213 47 2 5 4 0
Paul Krause (S) 1964-1979 226 81 3 8 3 0
Dick Lane (CB) 1952-1965 157 68 5 7 3 0
Yale Lary (S) 1952-1953, 1956-1964 133 50 2 9 3 3
Dick LeBeau (CB) 1959-1972 185 48 3 0 3 0
Ronnie Lott (CB-S) 1981-1994 192 63 5 10 6 4
Mel Renfro (S-CB) 1964-1977 174 52 3 10 1 2
Deion Sanders (CB-KR-PR) 1989-2000, 2004-2005 188 53 9 8 6 2
Emmitt Thomas (CB) 1966-1978 181 58 5 5 1 1
Emlen Tunnell (S) 1948-1961 167 79 4 9 4 2
Roger Wehrli (CB) 1969-1982 193 40 2 7 3 0
Aeneas Williams (CB/S) 1991-2004 211 55 9 8 3 0
Larry Wilson (S) 1960-1972 169 52 5 8 5 0
Willie Wood (S) 1960-1971 166 48 2 8 5 7
Rod Woodson (CB/S) 1987-2003 238 71 12 11 6 1
Kenny Easley (S) 1981-1987 89 32 3 5 3 0
Donnie shell (S) 1974-1987 201 51 2 5 3 4
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