Donnie Shell, a member of the famed Pittsburgh Steelers' "Steel Curtain" defense in the 1970s and director of the Carolina Panthers' player development program for 15 years, announced his retirement from the National Football League on Tuesday following a decorated career as a player and administrator.
A native of Whitmire, S.C. who played at South Carolina State, Shell gained his greatest fame in the NFL. He earned a spot on Pittsburgh's roster as a free agent in 1974 and played 13 years for the Steelers before retiring in 1987. In 1994, Shell joined the front office of the expansion Panthers in community relations prior to moving to player development.
As a member of the Steelers, Shell played on four Super Bowl championship teams and was selected to the Pro Bowl five times. He started 11 consecutive seasons for the Steelers and was chosen to the franchise's All-Time Team and NFL Silver Anniversary Super Bowl Team. Shell retired as the NFL's leader in interceptions by a strong safety with 51.
With the Panthers, his player development program won several honors. The award that annually goes to the best program in the NFL has Shell's name attached to it.
"It has been a great pleasure to work with Mr. Richardson and the Richardson family as well as Marty Hurney and John Fox," Shell said. "I thank them for the opportunity to work with the Carolina Panthers players and their families for 15 years. As a former player, Mr. Richardson has a great feeling for the players and their families."
Shell was named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1998. He has also been elected to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame and the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame. A 1976 graduate of South Carolina State with a degree in physical education and a minor in biology, he later earned a master's degree in guidance and counseling in 1977.