L.C. Greenwood and Donnie Shell are finally getting their due.
Established in 2009, the Black College Football Hall of Fame (BCFHOF) recognizes standout football players from historically black colleges. Along with Greenwood (University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff) and Shell (South Carolina State), the sixth class into the BCFHOF also included Richard Dent (Tennessee State), Roger Brown (University of Maryland Eastern Shore), Ernie "Big Cat" Ladd (Grambling State), Ken Riley (Florida A&M), and coach W.C. Gordan (Jackson State).
An Ebony All-American during his senior season in 1968, Greenwood's prowess on the football field drew the attention of Bill Nunn, a prominent black college sports writer who also served as a Steelers scout. Greenwood's sterling play and Nunn's influence led to the Steelers drafting the 6-6 defensive end in the 10th round of the 1969 draft. Paired with No.1 pick Joe Greene, Greenwood and his fellow defensive line mate would later team up with Ernie Holmes and Dwight White to form the Steel Curtain, the anchor that spearheaded the Steelers to four Super Bowl titles in a six-year span in the 1970s.
Nicknamed "Hollywood Bags" and known for his golden Nike high-tops, Greenwood earned six Pro Bowl nods (including four straight from 1973-76) and two All-Pro selections in 13 seasons in Pittsburgh. He was at his best in Super Bowls IX and X, deflecting three passes in Pittsburgh's 16-6 romp over the Vikings and then tallying four sacks against Roger Staubach in the Steelers 21-17 win the following year. Greenwoods hit of Staubach in '79 led to the Hall of Fame quarterback's retirement following the season. Greenwood and Greene both retired following the 1981 season. Greenwood died in September of 2013 at the age of 67 due to kidney failure.
Known as "The Torpedo", Shell more than lived up to his nickname throughout his 14 years in Pittsburgh. The menacing, explosive safety that earned All-Conference and All-American honors at South Carolina State, teamed with fellow safety Mike Wagner and corner backs J.T. Thomas and Mel Blount to form one of the strongest defensive backfields of any era. Shell intercepted at least one pass in each of his NFL seasons and finished his career second to only Blount in team annals with 51 picks. Shell earned five consecutive Pro Bowl nods from 1978-82 and was an All-Pro choice in 1979, '80, and '82. Shell recorded 25 interceptions during that span while helping the Steelers win Super Bowls XIII and XIV.
Like fine wine, Shell seemed to get better with age. In his 11th season, Shell led a young defensive unit with seven picks that included a late-game pick against the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Raiders in the 1984 season finale to clinch the final AFC playoff spot.
Shell was a model of consistency and durability throughout his career. He missed just six games during his final 10 seasons and started in all 149 games that he played in during that time. Shell and fellow 1974 draft classmates Mike Webster and John Stallworth were the last three members of the '70s Super Bowl teams to leave the Steelers, each doing so following the 1987 season.