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The Steelers 1978 Season Begins Here>>>

COACH NOLL'S STATE OF THE UNION MESSAGE

At his weekly press conference, Chuck Noll admitted, “You’re not going to be on top every time you go out there. If you could always go out and give a peak performance, nobody could beat most of the tennis players in this room.” When the tennis players amongst the reporters stopped giggling, Coach Noll spent some time giving a State of the (8-1) Steelers report, which proved to be encouraging for the fans.

“As long as we’re winning, we’re not much concerned,” the coach observed when questioned about the ability of the previous opponents, Houston and Kansas, to run the ball against the Steelers.

The Steelers defense had not allowed 300 yards of offense to any of their first six opponents but had not improved over the last three games although previous stats would indicate an improvement as the season progressed.

DONNIE SHELL

The Steelers next opponents, the New Orleans Saints, would most likely pick up where Houston and Kansas left off, and direct their offense against Pittsburgh on the ground. In week 7 against San Francisco, New Orleans attempted only four passes but ran the ball 55 times as they rolled over the 49ers.

The Saints quarterback Archie Manning is the number one passer in the NFC so if their ground game falters, they can easily turn to the air and Donnie Shell will have a busy day. Shell and fellow safety Mike Wagner were having solid seasons. Wagner is second in Steelers tackles with Shell fourth. Shell had recovered a fumble in the team’s last three games and his six points in the Kansas game was the difference between winning and losing.

The Steelers secondary coach Woody Widenhofer acknowledged, “Donnie has been playing exceptionally well. He always was excellent supporting the run and now he’s adapting to the man-to-man techniques. He has the ability to become an All-Pro. I wouldn’t trade him for any defensive back in the league. All season he’s been very consistent.”

Praise indeed. Shell admitted the All-Pro talk was flattering before saying, “I don’t have my sights set on that.  I only want to keep winning, to help the team in whatever way.”

Born in South Carolina, Shell received a scholarship to South Carolina State, half for football and half for baseball. Shell was the center-fielder on a successful baseball team that sent two players to the majors. “There are times I think I should have stayed in baseball,” he admitted before adding, “I think I could have made it in the majors.”

Shell was overlooked in the 1974 draft, but the Steelers scout Bill Nunn signed him as a free agent. When the player strike kept the rookies in camp longer than usual, Coach Noll had more time to evaluate Shell’s ability and he made the roster. After three years on special teams, he found himself playing strong safety last season after Wagner suffered a neck injury and finished as the defensive backs leading tackler.

Donnie Shell media photo

 

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This site last updated June 18th 2018.

Ben's early Steelers games.

The Steelers 1977 season in full.
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The Steelers 1975 season in full.
The Steelers 1974 season in full.

The first NFL champions the 1902 Pittsburgh Stars added June 2016

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