It was an exciting week when it came to the Pittsburgh Steelers and the announcements of players and coaches as part of the Centennial Class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. With Bill Cowher being selected as a coach and being informed on live TV as part of the CBS pregame show, it was a great moment for many Steelers’ fans. Then with the announcement of Donnie Shell finally being selected to take his rightful place in Canton as the 10th Pittsburgh Steelers’ player from the four 1970s Super Bowl winning teams, many black and gold fans are already making plans to travel to Ohio in early August.
With two more Steelers’ players still eligible for enshrinement in 2020 in Troy Polamalu and Alan Faneca, the Steelers organization is already preparing to have the extra preseason game that comes along with playing in the Hall of Fame game. Unless both of the modern players get snubbed, it seems like the Hall of Fame festivities are more than a Steelers’ fan could ask for in 2020.
As great as it is for Donnie Shell to finally be selected to the Hall of Fame, there is still another Steeler who has been kept out of Canton for far too long. With an equally impressive resume, if not more so, then Shell is Steelers’ great L.C. Greenwood. The fact Greenwood is not yet in Canton can be best explained in the same category as Shell in that the Steelers players from their great 70s teams have already taken up so many spots. Now that Shell has broken this ridiculous mindset, hopefully Greenwood will follow suit by being a veterans committee member in the not-too-distant future.
For those who may not know, L.C. Greenwood was drafted by the Steelers in 1969 in the 10th round out of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Coming from a historically black college, Greenwood was one of the first players associated with the Steelers legendary scout Bill Nunn (who also should be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame) who helped to build the Steelers’ dynasty wich gave them four Super Bowl wins in a six-season stretch. Greenwood became a full-time starter in 1971 and earned six Pro Bowl selections as well as two first team All-Pro awards. Greenwood also holds the record for the number of sacks in a Super Bowl with the four.
Another accomplishment which adds to L.C. Greenwood‘s resume was his selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame‘s All-Decade Team for the 1970s. Technically a second-team selection at defensive and, there are only a handful of players on the 70s All-Decade Team who are not members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Of the 23 players selected on offense, wide receiver Drew Pearson is the only player not enshrined in Canton. Of the 22 defensive players, Greenwood and fellow defensive end Harvey Martin along with safety Dick Anderson are the only players not already in the Hall of Fame. Of the 10 Steelers who played in the 1970s who are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, seven of them made the All-Decade team. Wide receiver John Stallworth along with cornerback Mel Blount and safety Donnie Shell were not selected for this honor. As for being on the second team, so were other Steelers such as Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Mike Webster, and Jack Lambert. The only Steelers who made the first team All-Decade Team were Lynn Swann, Jack Ham, and Joe Greene.
A finalist in both 2005 and 2006, Greenwood was overlooked both years as they were his final two chances to be selected as a modern-era player. Unfortunately, Greenwood passed away in 2013 due to kidney failure. Although he will never have the chance to make his induction speech, L.C. Greenwood should still have his name immortalized in Canton.
The Hall of Fame committee got it right in their selection of Donnie Shell for the 2020 Centennial Class. Hopefully, the veterans committee will soon nominate L.C. Greenwood for enshrinement and right the wrong of keeping some of the best players in the history of the NFL out of the Hall of Fame simply for playing alongside so many other greats.