I’m not sure anyone in the national media has pushed as hard for Donnie Shell to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as Tony Dungy. And with the news of Canton likely to expand the field to 20 inductees for its 100th season, Dungy again made the case the Steelers’ safety deserves to be part of the group.
Dungy responded to an article from Rick Gosselin that excluded Shell from a list of ten names for the Centennial Class.
This is far from the first time Dungy has gone to bat for Shell. He had a similar conversation with Gosselin back in 2015.
“He covered Hall-of-Fame tight ends like Ozzie Newsome man-to-man and covered wide receivers in the nickel package,” Dungy said at the time. “He patrolled the deep zones. He could do it all.”
Shell rarely came close to making the Hall, only once – 2002 – finishing as a finalist, making it to the top 15 before being eliminated from consideration. Getting him in the conventional way is impossible, meaning a Senior Committee or this new Centennial Class is his best bet for an honor that’s long overdue.
Dungy has always had a strong relationship with Shell, going so far as to choose Shell to introduce him when Dungy was inducted in 2016.
Steelers’ fans don’t need to be convinced Shell is a Hall of Famer. A five-time Pro Bowler, three-time All Pro, and four-time Super Bowl champ with 51 career interceptions. Fin. Conversation over. Send him to Canton. Unfortunately, as Dungy notes, there seems to be voter fatigue in sending more Steelers part of the 70s dynasty. That’s not a good reason but could be the prevailing one. The last member of that defense to be inducted was Jack Lambert in 1990 while the last player of the 70s dynasty enshrined was WR John Stallworth in 2002.
Since ’02, only five Steelers players have been inducted into the Hall: Rod Woodson (2009), Dirt Dawson and Jack Butler (2012), Kevin Greene (2016), and Jerome Bettis (2017). One more, Dick LeBeau, was enshrined in 2010 for his work as a corner and defensive coordinator.