Top 100 most influential people in Steelers history: 4

The top 4.  That’s all that’s left.  You already know that there aren’t any more players on my list.  Joe Greene sits at the top of the “players only” list.

So who is left?  I bet you can guess at least 3 out of the 4.  The tricky one for some Steelers fans may be the man who sits right here in the fourth spot.

So let’s get to it – the fourth most influential person in the history of the Steelers.

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4 – Bill Nunn 
1967 – 1987
Draft Consultant
1988 – 2014

When Bill Nunn passed away, Bob Labriola wrote a wonderful tribute to him that opened with this sentiment:

If Dan Rooney can be called the visionary and Chuck Noll the architect in the building of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ dynasty of the 1970’s that produced four Super Bowl championships over a span of six seasons, well, then Bill Nunn was a guy who made sure the warehouse was stocked with construction materials.

Most Steelers fans probably know who Bill Nunn is, and if they don’t, they should.  There is no John Stallworth without Bill Nunn.  No L.C. Greenwood, no Dwight White, no Mel Blount, no Ernie Holmes, no Donnie Shell.  How many Hall of Fame players was Bill Nunn responsible for bringing to the Steelers?  I have no idea, and am the first to admit that my knowledge of Bill Nunn is limited, and not as extensive as I wish it was.  I wish someone would write a book about Nunn.  Nunn wrote about players in the Pittsburgh Courier, and he took that knowledge he gained about all the small African-American colleges and used it to break a lot of barriers.

I would love to know how the meeting he had with Dan Rooney about his frustrations with the NFL ignoring those players, went.  I would love to know the extent of his involvement in the drafting and scouting of the players in the 70’s.  I can only assume, and my assumption is that his involvement was great, and the impact of that involvement was just as great.

Mel Blount is quoted as saying this about Nunn:

When you look at the Steelers of the 1970’s, none of that would have happened without Bill Nunn.

That’s all the confirmation I need.

Nunn worked for the Steelers for nearly 50 years as a scout.  Even up to the 2014 draft he had remained a consultant before he passed away in May of 2014.  The Steelers now make their draft picks from “The Bill Nunn Draft Room”.  After Nunn’s passing, Dan Rooney said:

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. Very few people had a bigger impact in the history of our franchise.

That is high praise indeed.

In 2010, Nunn was a member of the inaugural class that was inducted into the Black College Football Hall of Fame.  Other members of that class included Walter Payton, Deacon Jones, Willie Lanier, Tank Younger and Coach Eddie Robinson.  In Labriola’s piece on Nunn, he tells the story of how, in 1961, Nunn alerted the Los Angeles Rams about a player from Mississippi Vocational College named David Jones.  All those years later David “Deacon” Jones and Nunn were linked again in that inaugural class.  Read Bob Labriola’s piece on Nunn – it can tell you everything you want to know about him.


Bill Nunn should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and I think he will be soon, now that the Hall has expanded its selection for contributors to include scouts.  He deserves it.  I honestly believe that without Bill Nunn there would never have been a “Steel Curtain”, and in all likelihood we aren’t talking about 4 Super Bowl wins in the 70’s.  The fact that he wasn’t included in the initial class of the Hall of Honor still seems like a disgrace in my view. I think so much of Bill Nunn and his contributions that I almost put him higher on the list, but when you think about it, fourth isn’t too bad, and I just couldn’t bring myself to bump any of the guys who sit in the top three spots.

Three more names to go.  You know who’s left, but who is number three?  Find out next time around!

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