Donnie Shell: HOF Enshrinement Would be ‘Tremendous’ for LC Greenwood

Steelers fans in 1976

Bob Grieser/Allsport/Getty Images Pittsburgh Steelers fans during a playoff game against the Baltimore Colts in December 1976.

In three weeks, five more members of the Pittsburgh Steelers organization will be formally inducted (or honored) in ceremonies at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including the late Bill Nunn and former Steelers safety Donnie Shell. But there is at least one more player from the ’70s-era Steelers who is commonly seen as deserving of membership in the Hall of Fame, but has yet to be voted in. That would be the late defensive end L.C. Greenwood, who passed away at the age of 67 in 2013.

“It would be a tremendous award for him and his family, and also for me,” Shell told Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette earlier this week.

“L.C. was very unusual. He was about 6-foot-8, about 260 [pounds], but we played a 4-3 defense and he was just as good a run defender as a pass rusher. A lot of people don’t realize that,” added Shell, before noting that he played on the same side of the field with Greenwood, along with Hall of Fame outside linebacker Jack Ham. “He played the run just as well as he was tremendous as a pass rusher,” reiterated Shell.

L.C. Greenwood Had More Career Sacks Than Joe Greene

One thing working in Greenwood’s favor, perhaps, is how Pro Football Reference (PFR) has recently compiled sack statistics dating back to the early 1960s. By PFR’s count, Greenwood amassed 78 sacks over the course of his 13-year career (1969-81), more than the 77.5 recorded by Hall of Fame linemate Mean Joe Greene, whose career overlapped the same seasons played by Greenwood. Moreover, Greenwood played in 11 fewer career games—170 as compared to Greene’s 181.

Of course, expectations were higher from the get-go for Greene, who was selected with the No. 4 overall pick in the 1969 NFL Draft. Meanwhile, Greenwood was a tenth-round pick out of Arkansas-Pine Bluff and didn’t make his first start until 1971. Even so, he was named to the Pro Bowl six times in an eight-year span between 1973-79, earning first-team All-Pro honors in both 1974 and ’75. He was also named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1970s, and has the same four Super Bowl rings that Joe Greene earned as a player.

While it might seem like a longshot for Greenwood to get the call, Hall of Fame longshots sometimes come in after they are way overdue. Shell—who waited 34 years for his Hall call—can attest to that. Never mind Bill Nunn, who earned entry posthumously, seven years after his death.

Former Steelers Running Backs Coach Retires

In other news, on Friday Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported that Las Vegas Raiders running backs coach Kirby Wilson has decided to retire.

Wilson spent the last two seasons with the Raiders, but has coached in the league for more than two decades. He served as Pittsburgh’s running backs coach for seven seasons (2007-13), and was responsible for coaching the likes of Willie Parker, Rashard Mendenhall and Le’Veon Bell, among many others.

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