A chance to reflect: With his head still spinning from what the past 24 hours have been like, Donnie Shell finally had an opportunity to reflect on being voted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the Centennial Class of 2020.
Shell spoke on Thursday during a conference call with Pittsburgh media, first sharing his thoughts and excitement about something that he has dreamt about.
"It was a great feeling," said Shell. "I was lost for words when (Hall of Fame President) David (Baker) called me from the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I'm excited. My family's excited. All of my former teammates in the Steelers organization, they're excited also.
"The one thing that kept me steady (through the wait) was my faith. I had confidence, faith, that they would make the right decision. I think all the numbers were there, so I just had to keep praying and keep trusting. I never lost my confidence."
A perfect 10: With Shell now in the Hall of Fame, the Steelers now have 10 players from the 1970s dynasty in the Hall of Fame. On offense you have Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, John Stallworth, Lynn Swann and Mike Webster. Defensively there is Mel Blount, Joe Greene, Jack Ham, Jack Lambert and now Shell.
"It's great. It's great just to look back," said Shell. "When you're playing, you can't see your accomplishments. When you have time out of the game and you retire and you look back at what we did, what we accomplished as a team, it's an awesome accomplishment. Also, to do it with the guys, the players we did it with. They were not only great players, they were great people."
Many of those players campaigned for Shell to be enshrined, as did Tony Dungy, another former teammate who was enshrined into the Hall of Fame in 2016 as a coach.
"Tony was a great advocate," said Shell. "Mel, John Stallworth, Franco, Joe Greene. All those guys, Terry Bradshaw wrote a reference for me. All those guys kind of reminded me, when I read comments, it kind of brought tears to my eyes. It was kind of like we were on the field again and you have a bad play and they're telling you, 'Hey, I've got your back.' I wasn't surprised but I was happy about those comments and the way they advocated for me."
Shell said it has been special hearing from his teammates since the news came out, and he can't wait to speak to more of them.
"Franco was on the West Coast. He called me about 9 o'clock, so early about 6 o'clock in the morning (his time)," said Shell. "He said, 'Man, you got me up early, but it's a good call.' He told me congrats and we talked about 10 minutes on the phone. I talked with Mel Blount. He was so excited and elated. 'Man,' he said, 'You deserve to be right where you are, a Hall of Famer.' And Joe Greene, he called to the house. Coming from the airport, I talked to him. He was excited and elated. Joe's the type of person, he thinks about what he says before he speaks, but he was excited yesterday. I talked to John Stallworth, and also, we talked previously going up to the event yesterday. This morning he texted me and said, 'Are you still excited?' He said, 'I am.' Them advocating for me and them speaking good things about me, I felt good about that. That was a good feeling."
First class: Shell is also now the fifth member of the Steelers 1974 rookie class to be voted into the Hall of Fame. Four draft picks, Lambert, Stallworth, Swann and Webster, are already in there, and Shell, who came in as an undrafted free agent, is now joining them.
"You don't really know (while you are playing)," said Shell. "When guys start making All-Pro. One year we won the Super Bowl I think we had 10 players in the Pro Bowl. That's when I got the sense that we had some pretty good players around. But when you're playing, you're so focused on the next game you don't really have time to think about it. But now I've been out, and you look back at it, there were some special teams, special people."