I can’t think of any individuals at least off the top of my head whose induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame was more overdue than that of former Pittsburgh Steelers great ‘super scout’ Bill Nunn, who was finally officially chosen for enshrinement last night.
I’m sure the majority of those reading this already know his background, about how he was instrumental in promoting the great athletes who were ‘stuck’ in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, because professional sports teams would generally overlook them.
He continued to give them publicity every year, publishing All-HBCU teams in his paper, the Pittsburgh Courier, and even going so far as to call up teams and let them know that you have to draft this guy. He kept doing that so often for the Steelers that at one point they simply said, ‘then why don’t you work for us?’.
And so he did, and so the rest is history. He was instrumental in putting together the great dynasty team of the 1970s, and so many of his draft picks have already preceded him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Donnie Shell, the great safety who was undrafted during the historic class of 1974, was chosen last year, but will be inducted this year due to the pandemic.
While he sadly passed away years before he was even nominated for the first time, at least his now-late wife survived long enough to learn of it. According to his granddaughter, Cydney Nunn, his wife, Frances, passed away the night they were told he had been nominated, after battling illness.
Nunn’s granddaughter spoke to Missi Matthews for an exclusive interview on the team’s website following last night’s news that he was officially elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and she was asked how Nunn would react.
“I think he would say, ‘oh wow!’. He was such a humble, humble man”, she told Matthews. “He never wanted to toot his own horn, so I’m really glad that we get to toot it for him. I’m loving that he’s getting his flowers now. I think that he would be really, really, really happy, but he was such a low-key, humble guy, and always just showing up and doing what he loved, and never looking for the fame or the accolades, but it’s totally deserved, and I think he would be really, really happy—on the inside, but he might not show that on the outside”.
That characterization certainly lines up with every story we’ve ever heard of her grandfather. It has been crucial that others have campaigned for his legacy, like Steve Wyche and many others, especially in recent years, to finally get that push to give him the recognition that he, beyond question, truly deserves.