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What It Took to Be Part of the Steel Curtain – Donnie Shell

Jacob Ray Youth & Education Manager, Pro Football Hall of Fame Published 21 Dec 2020

The Pro Football Hall of Fame once again will offer its highly popular Heart of a Hall of Famer series, powered by Extreme Networks, on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2020, at noon (ET) with Gold Jacket Donnie Shell.

The program provides students the opportunity to learn first-hand what it took beyond athletic ability to achieve success on and off the field.

A fierce hitter, Shell intercepted at least one pass in each of his 14 seasons with the Steelers.  His 51 interceptions made him the first strong safety in the history of the National Football League to surpass the 50-interception mark. Following the 1978 season he was named to the first of his five consecutive Pro Bowl teams. He was also named first- or second-team All-Pro five times, 1978 through 1982.

In 1980 Shell led all Steelers defenders with a career-high seven interceptions and was named the team’s MVP.  In a 1981 game against archrival Cleveland Browns, the ball-hawking Shell became the first Steeler since 1973 to have three interceptions in a single game. In addition to having a nose for the ball, Shell was also a devastating tackler.  He led the team in tackles in both 1982 and 1984, and was the leading tackler in the Steelers secondary for six consecutive years (1981-1986). A durable player, Shell is tied for second most seasons played behind only Hall of Fame center Mike Webster.

Any school can connect to the Heart of a Hall of Famer program via a PC/MAC/IOS/Android device or a traditional video conferencing system. There are limited interactive and video conferencing system spots are available, and the first 7 schools to register will receive those spots. If you register and are not one of the first 7 schools, you can still be part of the program — as a “view only” school. You still will be able to access the chat function to ask Mr. Shell a question.

A session is available to grades 4-12 free of charge, thanks to our sponsors at Extreme Networks! For more information or to register, please contact our Education Department at or register at

Due to the differences in how schools are operating this year, we ask that you only register for this program if your students will be in the classroom. If your students are not in the classroom during this time, please see the information below on how to view the live stream of this program!

We will be streaming the program on the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s YouTube page and will take questions from students throughout the program. To participate, all you will need to do is:

To ask a question, comment on the post with the following information:

  • First Name of Student
  • Name of Teacher
  • Name/Location of School
  • Question for Gold Jacket

​View the program by going to Here, you can view and set a reminder about the program and subscribe to the Hall of Fame’s Channel. The program will be taking place at Noon (ET) on Feb. 23rd.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out! You can contact me at 330-588-3558 or by email at

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