CANTON, Ohio — Donnie Shell, who played for South Carolina State in the early 1970s before becoming a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers' famed 'Steel Curtain' defense as a safety, was one of 15-people chosen as part of the Centennial Slate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class in 2020.
Shell was born in Whitmire, South Carolina and joined the Steelers as a free agent in 1974. Shell played 14 seasons, all with the Steelers. He was voted to five consecutive Pro Bowls and a member of the Super Bowl's Silver Anniversary team.
"When you look back at your career and that was the one thing you didn't have, you hope someday you will earn it," said Shell. "This is the highlight of my career as I look back it. It was the only thing I hadn't achieved in my career. I became a starter. I was an All-Pro. We won four Super Bowls. We were champions. This was one of my goals."
"It's incredible, outstanding. When you are not drafted, especially when we had 17 rounds in 1974, then you come up and make a young team, an up and coming team with that defense," Shell said. "One year we had 10 Pro Bowlers on our defense. To be able to crack that lineup rather than giving up and saying I can't do it, I looked forward to becoming a starter and wanted to be All-Pro and make the Pro Bowl and hopefully one day have this, get in the Hall of Fame."
"That was the dream. You have to have dreams to accomplish anything."
Shell is currently a member of South Carolina State's Board of Trustees. He's the fourth SC State player to make the Hall of Fame, which is the most of any school in South Carolina. Clemson has just one player, and the University of South Carolina has none.
"I want to congratulate Donnie Shell for his election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a dynamic defender for our historic Steel Curtain defense in the 1970s," said Pittsburgh Steelers President Art Rooney II. "We are excited he will be honored with our sport's highest individual honor this summer in Canton."
Shell will be the 26th member of the Pittsburgh Steelers' organization to become a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Shell will be inducted during the Hall of Fame's Enshrinement week August 6-9, 2020 in Canton, Ohio.