Pro Football Hall of Fame adds players from Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles
For Donnie Shell and Harold Carmichael, the wait is finally over.
Decades after they retired, they’ve finally been selected for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The selections of the hard-hitting Pittsburgh Steelers safety and the towering Philadelphia Eagles wideout were announced on Wednesday morning.
They are part of a class of 10 senior candidates, three contributors and two coaches who are part of the hall’s celebration of the NFL’s 100th season.
Shell had to be special to keep up with the likes of Joe Greene, Mel Blount, Jack Ham and Jack Lambert on the famed Steel Curtain defenses. A punishing hitter with terrific ball skills, Shell played 14 seasons, had 51 interceptions, made three All-Pro teams and five Pro Bowls. He also won four Super Bowls.
Shell is the 10th man from the Pittsburgh dynasty of the 1970s to be elected, and the fifth from the defense that dominated the NFL.
“Don’t give up on your dreams and aspirations,” said Shell, who was an undrafted rookie in 1974 when he made the Steelers – and won a championship. “Some people have to work harder to make those gifts come out and I was one of those people.”
At 6-foot-8, 225 pounds, Carmichael was something new to pro football. He used his height, long arms and strong hands to dominate smaller defenders – which meant just about everyone – from 1971-84. He made 590 catches for 8,985 yards, a 15.2 average, and had 79 TD receptions in a mostly run-oriented league.
“I never thought this would happen, but thank you, God,” Carmichael said in the audio, which was released Wednesday by the Hall of Fame. “I feel like I’m dreaming. I don’t know what to feel. I feel so numb."
Modell snubbed again: Art Modell, the late Baltimore Ravens owner who brought pro football back to Baltimore when he moved his team from Cleveland after the 1995 season, again missed out.
Modell was one of 10 historical contributors considered by a panel of 25 media members, former players and league executives (including Hall of Fame member and former Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome). But he was not one of three selected.
George Young, the longtime New York Giants manager who grew up in Baltimore and coached at both Calvert Hall and Baltimore City College, was selected along with former NFL Films president Steve Sabol and former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
Tagliabue got in on his fifth attempt.
Tagliabue replaced Pete Rozelle as league commissioner in 1989 and served 17 years, during which there was labor peace, expansion to 32 teams and widespread upgrades in stadiums. The NFL’s television revenues under Tagliabue skyrocketed, and he helped establish a pension system for former players.
The issue that seemed to keep him from earlier selection to the hall was how the NFL dealt with concussions and head trauma. But, as with all commissioners, Tagliabue was doing the bidding of his bosses, the team owners. He made some unwise comments about the connection between concussions and football for which he later apologized.
Other selections: Others selected were: Dallas Cowboys safety Cliff Harris, Cleveland receiver Mac Speedie, Green Bay Packers safety Bobby Dillon, Detroit Lions defensive tackle Alex Karras, Chicago Cardinals tackle and African-American pioneer Duke Slater, Chicago Bears defensive standout Ed Sprinkle and offensive tackles Winston Hill (New York Jets) and Jim Covert (Chicago Bears).
Covert was a standout college player at Pitt and spent eight seasons in Chicago and was the top offensive lineman on the great 1985 Bears team that won the championship.
Karras, who became well known off the field as an actor and also was suspended for one year by commissioner Rozelle for gambling, was an unmovable defensive tackle for the Lions. He was a three-time All-Pro in 12 seasons,
Sabol, whose father, Ed, was enshrined in 2011, was the creative force at NFL Films, which is based near Philadelphia and has become an institution in the football world. NFL Films won more than 100 Emmy Awards under his stewardship.
The Associated Press and other wire services contributed to this story.