Longtime Pittsburgh Steelers scout Bill Nunn, Jr. has been selected as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021, according to multiple media reports.
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.
He worked for the Steelers for 46 years, starting as a part-time scout in 1967 and was a part of all six of team’s Super Bowl titles.
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.
Blount and Stallworth have already been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Shell is scheduled to as part of the Class of 2020.
Both Steelers president Art Rooney II and head coach Mike Tomlin made public cases for Nunn’s enshrinement.
“His legacy and career deserve to be recognized with the greatest individual honor in football,” Rooney said.
“There is no way the Class of 2021 can be complete without the legend, Bill Nunn, being a part of it,” Tomlin said.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) February 7, 2021
Nunn was the lone finalist recommended by the nine-member contributor committee. 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.
Hall of Famer and former Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts general manger Bill Polian presented the case for Nunn’s enshrinement to the 48-person selection committee.
“He was the authority, while working for the (Pittsburgh) Courier, on HBCU football. He might well have been termed the Scout-in-Chief of HBCU football,” Polian said. “Bill Nunn helped create one of the greatest teams of all time.”
The voting committee is made up of one media representative from each pro football city and 16 at-large members. Finalists must have received at least 80 percent of the vote to be selected.
Nunn is the 24th person primarily associated with the Pittsburgh Steelers to be selected to the hall. Former Steelers guard Alan Faneca is a modern-era finalist in the Class of 2021.
The Class of 2021 will be enshrined at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 8, 2021.
Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher and safeties Troy Polamalu and Shell will also be enshrined this August as members of the Class of 2020, whose enshrinement was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.