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Game Changer: Bill Nunn Helped Shape Steelers, NFL

Long-time Pittsburgh Steelers scout Bill Nunn died on Tuesday at age 89. (Steelers.com)

One of the men who helped make sure players from black colleges and universities got a shot at pro football passed away just days before the NFL Draft. Long-time Pittsburgh Steelers scout Bill Nunn, Sr. passed away on Tuesday at the age of 89. The former editor of the Pittsburgh Courier is credited with helping shape the frachise’s rise to prominence.

“We have lost a great friend and a great person who did so much for the Steelers organization with the passing of Bill Nunn,” Steelers chairman Dan Rooney said in a statement. “Bill had extraordinary talents in identifying talent throughout his career, including the legendary 1974 NFL draft for us. He put us ahead of so many others teams in the NFL by leading the efforts of drafting African-American players at traditional black colleges. 


The West Virginia State alum joined the team as a scout in the late 60s and immediately paid dividends by helping the team land Mean Joe Greene and Arkansas A&MN’s L.C. Greenwood in the 1969 Draft.

Here is a list of notable HBCU players Nunn helped bring to Pittsburgh:

*L.C. Greenwood, Arkansas A&M
*Mel Blount, Southern (3rd Rd, 53 overall 1970)
*Joe Gilliam, Tennessee State (11th, 273 1972)
*John Stallworth, Alabama A&M (4th, 82 1974)
*Donnie Shell, South Carolina State  (Undrafted 1974)
*Greg Lloyd, Fort Valley State (6th, 150 1987)

“Very few people had a bigger impact in the history of our franchise, Rooney said. “His positive attitude and contributions will truly be missed.”


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