Updated: Jun 14, 2021
(Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
It was long overdue, but legendary Steelers "super scout" Bill Nunn was formally enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame tonight in Canton, Ohio. Along with Nunn, eight others were honored posthumously -- Bobby Dillon, Winston Hill, Alex Karras, Steve Sabol, Duke Slater, Mac Speedie, Ed Sprinkle and George Young, all members of the Centennial Class of 2020. Nunn is a member of the 2021 Hall of Fame Class. All will be recognized in August during the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony in Canton, as well.
The ceremony that took place this evening was a part of the NFL Network special, "Hall of Famer Forever: Enshrinement Special," that will air on Saturday, May 1, following the conclusion of the NFL Draft.
"It's still a little bit surreal for Bill to get recognized like this," Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said via Teresa Varley of Steelers.com. "Tonight, we will finally come to the realization of how great an honor this is and how great an honor it was to know and work with a man like Bill Nunn. Until you really see it happen, it's not a real feel, but you are picking that up now.
"Bill meant everything to the Steelers organization. It's been documented, the players he was instrument in bringing to the Steelers and the success they had. We as young scouts were fortunate to be around Bill and try and learn things they implemented when they put those teams together. There were a lot of lessons being taught to us."
Mike Tomlin also posted a tweet tonight congratulating Nunn on being inducted into football immortality.
"Congratulations to a true legend, Bill Nunn, and to the entire Nunn family on his enshrinement tonight in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Special man and a special family.
Before becoming a scout, Nunn was a sportswriter and editor for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the largest Black newspapers in the United States, and he selected the Black College All-American Team every year since 1950. The Steelers were aware of Nunn's coverage of players who went to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and at the time, HBCU players were traditionally underrepresented in the league. The Steelers were known as perennial losers in the 1960s and were looking for a winning edge, so they asked Nunn to join the team's scouting department. Nunn accepted a part-time position with the Steelers in 1967 and two years later he was hired full-time when Chuck Noll became the team's head coach.
Nunn would travel all over the South every fall to compile information on players for his All-American team, along with that he built close relationships with coaches and athletic directors at HBCUs. The Steelers had a huge advantage over other teams by having Nunn.
Without Nunn, the Steelers don’t find diamonds in the rough like John Stallworth (Alabama A&M), Mel Blount (Southern), L.C. Greenwood (Arkansas-Pine Bluff), Ernie Holmes (Texas Southern), Dwight White (East Texas State) and Donnie Shell (South Carolina State), all of whom played at HBCUs. Stallworth, Blount and Shell are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Also without Nunn, the Steelers don't win four Super Bowls in six years in the 1970s. His fingerprints were all over the 1970s dynasty.
Nunn retired from his full-time scouting position in 1987 but he still helped the Steelers as a part-time scout up until his passing in 2014 at the age of 89. In total, Nunn played a role in all six of the Steelers' Super Bowl titles. Nunn is the first Black contributor to ever make the Pro Football Hall of Fame.