Longtime Pittsburgh Steelers scout Bill Nunn has been named as a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021, the hall announced on Tuesday.
Nunn, who died in 2014, was a key figure in the Steelers’ success in the 1970s and helped revolutionize the scouting process for players at historically black colleges and universities, that had been previously underrepresented in the NFL.
“You don’t know how much this means to us,” Nunn’s daughter, Lynell Nunn, said in a press release.
A Homewood native, Nunn attended Westinghouse High School and played basketball West Virginia State College before moving on to a career in journalism with the Pittsburgh Courier, where he was a sportswriter, sports editor and eventually managing editor of what was at the time one of the most influential black publications in the country.
It was while he was with the Courier that Nunn first attempted to gain recognition for athletes at traditionally black schools, creating a black college All-America list. The Steelers noticed and hired him in 1968 to their scouting department.
In 1969, thanks to Nunn’s scouting, the Steelers struck gold by landing defensive end L.C. Greenwood out of Arkansas Pine-Bluff in the 10th round of the NFL Draft. In 1970, they look Mel Blount out of Southern in the third round. In 1972, they got Ernie Holmes from Texas Southern in the eighth round and in 1974, in one of the best draft classes in NFL history, the Steelers took John Stallworth from Alabama A&M in the fourth round and signed Donnie Shell from South Carolina State as an undrafted free agent.
Nunn is the lone finalist recommended by the nine-member contributor committee. Nunn will now be voted upon by the entire 48-member selection committee on Feb. 6, 2021. Up for consideration will be Nunn, senior committee finalist Drew Pearson, coaches committee finalist Tom Flores and 15 modern era finalists.
The Class of 2021 will be enshrined at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 8, 2021.
The Steelers have not had any nominated through the contributor committee, which dates back to 2015, though executives Art Rooney (1964) and Dan Rooney (2000) were previously enshrined.
Shell, fellow safety Troy Polamalu and coach Bill Cowher were part of the hall’s Class of 2020. Before that, the last Steelers to go into Canton were Tony Dungy and Kevin Greene in 2016 and Jerome Bettis in 2015.