Donnie Shell

Donnie Shell
No. 31
Position: Safety
Personal information
Date of birth: (1952-08-26) August 26, 1952
Place of birth: Whitmire, South Carolina
Weight: 190 lb (86 kg)
Career information
College: South Carolina State
Undrafted: 1974
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Interceptions: 51
INT yards: 490
Touchdowns: 2
Player stats at

Donnie Shell (born August 26, 1952) is a former American Football strong safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the National Football League between 1974 and 1987. Shell was a member of the Steelers famed Steel Curtain defense in the 1970s.

Shell retired as the NFL strong safety career leader in interceptions with 51. He started eleven straight years for the Steelers and was selected to the Steelers All-Time Team, the College Football Hall of Fame, and to the NFL Silver Anniversary Super Bowl Team.

Early life

Donnie Shell grew up in humble means in the small town of Whitmire in Newberry County in South Carolina. He played on the local Whitmire High School football team where in his senior season as a linebacker, his team did not allow a single touchdown by the opposing team offense. Shell played college football for Willie Jeffries at South Carolina State University where he was teammates with future New York Giants and Hall of Fame linebacker Harry Carson and earned All-American and All conference honors. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1998.[1] He was signed undrafted by the Steelers where he played his entire career winning 4 Super Bowls with the great Steeler team of the 1970's. Shell is a member of Groove Phi Groove Social Fellowship Incorporated

NFL career

Shell was a five time Pro Bowler between 1978 and 1982, a 4 time All-Pro selection, and was the Steelers team MVP in 1980. He saved several possible six points in Super Bowl XIII and Super Bowl XIV. He had been in the top fifteen in balloting for the Pro Football Hall of Fame once before, in 2002 but with no success.[2] The Professional Football Researchers Association named Shell to the PRFA Hall of Very Good Class of 2013 [3]

Shell resides in Rock Hill, South Carolina and was the Carolina Panthers Director of Player Development from 1994 to 2009.[4]

With the lone exception of former Steelers safety Mike Logan, who grew up in McKeesport, Pennsylvania just outside Pittsburgh, Shell's number 31 has not been reissued by the team.

He played in 201 games for the Steelers, second only to Hall of Fame Center Mike Webster (who played in 220).[5]


Shell currently serves as Director of Spiritual Life at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina.


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