Over the last few years, there has been a groundswell of support building for Steelers scout Bill Nunn’s Pro Football Hall of Fame candidacy.
Nunn, the Steelers legendary scout that help put together four Super Bowl teams and earned six rings as part of the organization, died in 2014, but the efforts to immortalize his contributions to the Steelers and football did not slow down.
Tuesday, those efforts came to a head, as Nunn was formally nominated as the contributors committee’s lone finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2021.
Art Rooney II, the Steelers president, released the following statement on Nunn’s nomination:
I am beyond thrilled to hear Bill Nunn has been selected a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a contributor. Bill’s contributions to the Steelers were extraordinary over the 46 years he was part of the organization. He was a special person that was a close friend and mentor before his passing in 2014. His lessons and stories are still evident in our everyday work.
I look forward to hopefully celebrating his induction next year at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His legacy and career deserve to be recognized with the greatest individual honor in football, and we are excited he was chosen by the contributor committee as a finalist.
Six Steelers Nominated for Hall of Fame Class of 2021
Former Steelers Gary Anderson, Alan Faneca, Casey Hampton, Heath Miller, Joey Porter and Hines Ward are among the modern era nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2021.
Miller was nominated in his first season of eligibility, while Faneca is a five-time finalist and Ward is a five-time semifinalist.
In total, there are 130 nominees, which will be trimmed to 25 semifinalists in November and 15 finalists in January before the five-man Class of 2021 is selected the day before Super Bowl LV in February.
Anderson spent 13 seasons kicking with the Steelers from 1982-94 and is the team’s all-time leading scorer with 1,343 points. He’s the only Pittsburgh player to score more than 1,000 career points and is also the team’s leader in career field goals made (309) and points after touchdown (416). He was a four-time Pro Bowlers, a three-time All-Pro and a member of the NFL’s 1980s and 1990s All-Decade Teams.
Faneca played guard for the Steelers from 1998-2007 after being selected by the team in the first round of the 1998 NFL Draft out of LSU. Faneca was one of the most dominant offensive linemen of his era, and was chosen to participate in nine Pro Bowls and was an eight-time All-Pro. He is a member of the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade Team and won Super Bowl XL with the Steelers.
Hampton came to Pittsburgh three years later, in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft out of Texas. The big nose tackle spent 12 seasons in Black and Gold, winning Super Bowls XL and XLIII. Hampton was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and is a member of the Steelers’ All-Time Team.
Miller retired in 2015 after a 13-year run as the Steelers’ starting tight end after being the team’s 2005 first-round pick out of Virginia. Miller is eligible to be elected for the first time. He is a two-time Pro Bowler and a two-time Super Bowl champion.
Porter spent seven seasons with the Steelers from 1999-2006 and became one of the team’s most popular and most-feared outside linebackers. Porter recorded 60 quarterback sacks in 121 career games, ending his Steelers tenure as the second-most proficient pass rusher in team history. He was a four-time Pro Bowler, a four-time All-Pro and a member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team. After his retirement, Porter coached with the Steelers from 2014-18.
Ward’s 14-year NFL career was spent carving out a role as one of the most physical players on the Steelers, even as a wide receiver. The Korean-born Ward won two Super Bowls with Pittsburgh and was the MVP of Super Bowl XL after his game-sealing touchdown reception. His impact as a blocker was so well-known that the NFL changed its rules to prevent blindside blocks downfield, which has come to be known as the Hines Ward Rule. Ward was named to four Pro Bowls, was a three-time All-Pro and is on the Steelers’ All-Time Team.
Additionally, punter Rohn Stark, who spent most of his career with the Indianapolis Colts but played the 1995 season in Pittsburgh, was nominated.
The Steelers have three members in the Hall of Fame Class of 2020: safeties Troy Polamalu and Donnie Shell and former head coach Bill Cowher. The enshrinement of that class has been delayed until August 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Class of 2020 will be enshrined in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 7, 2021, while the Class of 2021 will be celebrated on Aug. 8, 2021.
The most recent Steelers players to be inducted were linebacker Kevin Greene and defensive back and assistant coach Tony Dungy in 2016.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine: Fans at Hall of Fame Game ‘Unlikely’
The Pittsburgh Steelers are still expected to play against the Dallas Cowboys in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 5 in Canton, Ohio.
But the idea of that game and the week of ceremonies leading up to it being attended by fans is looking fairly bleak.
“As much as I hate to say this, because we’ve all been looking forward to that and I know how much it means to the Canton area and the Stark County area and really across the country, it’s a great great event that we’ve been looking forward to, having a crowd that size is highly unlikely,” Ohio governor Mike DeWine said on Tuesday.
“Certainly, it could not occur today. It would be very dangerous to do it today.
The Memorial Golf Tournament, which will be held on July 19, two hours southeast of Canton in Dublin, Ohio, will allow 8,000 fans, so perhaps the outdoor portions of the ceremonies will be permitted to have crowds, but fans in stands in the building does not seem to be in the cards for now.
“Again, we have to see where we are at that point, but that’s a large crowd, a lot of people together,” DeWine said. “These are the things that we’ve talked about all the way through this as we open Ohio up and we get back to work and we get back to doing the things that we like, probably the last things that are going to be able to be open are the big crowds, particularly when you have big crowds that are close together. So we have to continue to look at it and make decisions as we move forward, but if the question was, ‘could that even occur today?’ the answer would be, ‘no.’”
The early August game is traditionally the first to be played of the NFL season and is generally one of the very first competitive American football games played in the entire season.
That means the Hall of Fame Game will be something of a guinea pig for all of the policies and procedures put into place in order to combat the continued threat of coronavirus, from the players on the field, to whether or not there are fans in the stands and much more.
Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted added that the state has in been in close contact with the Hall of Fame about planning for events.
Donnie Shell Donating Rare Items to Pro Football Hall of Fame
Steelers legend Donnie Shell is donating some unique and rare memorabilia to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as he prepares to be enshrined as part of the 2020 class.
A number of exclusive items are being donated, including jerseys, personal artifacts, and awards.
The jerseys are Shell’s college jersey from his time a South Carolina State, as well as a throwback Steelers jersey.
Among the many personal artifacts in the collection are Shell’s Bible used during his career, a 1974 Steelers team photo, his Terrible Towel and even a commemorative ball from his second-career interception.
Also included are two of Shell’s awards from his years at South Carolina State, his 1973-74 Sportsmanship Award and his 1973 All-American Award.
Shell spent his entire 14-year career with the Steelers. His 51 career interceptions are the third-most in Steelers history.
Shell will be inducted as part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Centennial class, along with fellow Steelers Troy Polamalu and Bill Cowher.
Steelers fans can check out all the donated memorabilia here.