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Donnie Shell

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No. 31
Position: Safety
Personal information
Date of birth: (1952-08-26) August 26, 1952 (age 67)
Place of birth: Whitmire, South Carolina
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Career information
College: South Carolina State
Undrafted: 1974
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career Template:If empty statistics
INT: 51
INT yards: 490
Touchdowns: 2
Stats at

Donnie Shell (born August 26, 1952 in Whitmire, South Carolina) 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

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.

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]

Shell resides in Rock Hill, South Carolina and was the Carolina Panthers Director of Player Development from 1994 to 2009.[3]

With the lone exception of former Steelers safety Mike Logan, who grew up in McKeesport, Pennsylvania just outside of 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).[4]


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